BG Spires Spaces - MP

The New Spire Spaces, the nonprofit arts center at 115 E. Church St., officially opened Tuesday evening. The Downtown Frederick Partnership and the Ausherman Family Foundation cut the ribbon for the newly renovated first floor of the early 20th-century building.

From adult dance classes to independent film screenings, a new performing arts venue on East Church Street has many possibilities.

“You can do a lot in seven rooms,” said Elizabeth Lucas, producing artistic director of the nonprofit agency that opened New Spire Spaces at 115 E. Church St.

New Spire Spaces is an arts education and creation center that will host performing arts classes in genres including dance, film, theater, music, and multimedia in seven newly renovated rooms. The first courses were held Monday, and organizers are working with partners to offer more. The building, formerly the Frederick County Board of Education headquarters, has been used in recent years as a venue for two Artomatic@Frederick events. New Spire Arts is the nonprofit agency that runs it.

City and county officials joined representatives from New Spire Arts, the Downtown Frederick Partnership, the Ausherman Family Foundation and others Tuesday to cut the ribbon for the newly renovated first floor of the historic building and to show community members around.

The Ausherman Family Foundation issued grant funds to New Spire Arts to open both New Spire Spaces and New Spire Stages at 15 W. Patrick St., which is slated to become a performing arts theater. The two facilities are set to operate hand in hand, with artists learning skills at the Spaces spot and then performing at Stages.

The Stages theater is tentatively set for completion in the fall with performances to begin in late spring or early summer of 2018, Lucas said. The Spaces building has a looser timeline for full completion, with feedback from the community and the completion of various community partnerships to determine its future.

“We are looking at partnerships with major organizations in Frederick and outside of Frederick,” Lucas said.

Marvin Ausherman, chairman of the Ausherman Family Foundation, told the modest crowd who gathered for the ribbon-cutting and open house that the ultimate plan is to renovate all four floors of the early 20th-century building and then “give it back to the community.”

He said the foundation started the project but members do not plan to operate any of the programs or activities.

Lucas declined to name any potential partners because she said deals have not been finalized, but she cited Riotous Youth, a local kids theater program, as an example.

“That’s the kind of partnership we’re looking for,” she said.

So far, the Spaces rooms are open and mostly empty, but ready for all types of uses. Lucas said feedback from community members will determine how the rooms will be set up and what furniture and equipment will be needed.

“We know we’re going to need chairs,” she said. “As soon as someone says they need so many chairs, we’ll buy them. If someone needs screening equipment, we’ll buy it. It’s really about not spending money until we know it will be used.”

Poster boards were set up in one of the rooms, asking attendees to identify the types of classes they would attend and the types of classes they would like to see that are not offered. Lucas said she and her staff are looking at hosting dance classes for adults and independent film screenings, as people have said they would like to see them.

“If you can tell me you and five friends will show up for a class, we’ll offer it,” she said.

Most of the rooms also had freshly painted white walls, which Lucas hopes will soon be adorned with colorful murals.

“The first thing we are asking is, who wants to paint a mural on this building?” she told a group of attendees.

Follow Mallory Panuska on Twitter: @MalloryPanuska.

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