Stages St. Louis has officially announced it will purchase the former Congregation Kol Am building in Chesterfield for $2.8 million to house its growing arts education programs and serve as an administrative center.
The news was announced in an email to Stages supporters, but indications that the non-profit was interested in the property had surfaced during a meeting of the Chesterfield Planning Commission in October.
The new 22,000-square-foot facility is projected to open in early 2013 and will house 30 full-time staff and 40 part-time instructors. The building will include three dance studios, two acting studios, two voice studios, a multi-purpose student lounge, a welcome center and box office, administrative offices.
While Stages' professional performances will stay at the Robert G. Reim Theater in Kirkwood, the new space will also include a performance hall with flexible seating to be used for main stage rehearsals, dance classes, educational presentations, donor and community events and special performances.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for STAGES to secure a permanent home for our educational programs, as well as rehearsal space, ticket and administrative offices and flexible performance hall,” said Stages Executive Producer Jack Lane in a press release announcing the news. “Over the past two years, we have conducted an exhaustive search of properties throughout the region. The Kol Am building best suits our needs, with minimal renovation costs and the ability to remain in Chesterfield to serve our patrons here.”
The property had been owned by Frontenanc Bank, who donated $100,000 toward Stages as part of the deal. Although Stages said the costs for renovating the facility will be minimal, the total cost for purchasing and upgrading it is estimated at $4 million.
To secure the funding, the non-profit said it is starting a new fundraising campaign and has already received pledges of $2.5 million. The building itself will be dubbed the Kent Center for Theatre Arts in honor of Judy and Jerry Kent, who contributed a "generous" lead gift.
With the acquisition of this unique building, Stages said it hopes to create a new home for the community with an increased number of students and outreach participants, and further cultivation of the performing arts talent pool both in the St. Louis region and nationally.
About Stages Educational programs: STAGES Performing Arts Academy offers musical theatre, acting, voice, and dance classes for students ages 3 to 18. In 2012, the Academy served more than 4,500 students and provided nearly $80,000 in scholarship assistance to ensure that every aspiring young artist may attend. Other programs include Scout workshops, Master Classes, the teen a cappella troupe TeamSTAGES, Access the Arts for students with physical, cognitive or developmental delays, and interactive monthly readings performed by STAGES artists for young children called Stories @ STAGES.