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Nashua aldermanic panel votes in support of performing arts center

Union Leader Correspondent

January 22. 2018 11:20PM

NASHUA — Art connoisseurs from outside the Gate City voiced their hopes on Monday for a proposed $15.5 million performing arts center downtown.

Peter Ramsey, president and CEO of the Palace Theatre in Manchester, praised city officials for taking on this endeavor, maintaining the theater venue will be a great success story for Nashua if it is approved by aldermen.

“Your new theater will be a focal point for downtown,” Ramsey told the aldermanic budget review committee. He predicted that the proposed arts center at 201 Main St., the former Alec’s shoe store, would garner about 75,000 patrons in the first year.

Alan Chong, CEO and director of the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, also expressed his support for the proposal, saying his organization is interested in partnering with the Nashua venue to possibly create an art gallery in the lower level of the space.

According to the proposal being considered by aldermen, a $4 million private endowment will be necessary for the proposed $15.5 million bond to be used to begin the performing arts project — if the bond is approved by the board.

“We believe this would be a catalytic project for the redevelopment of your downtown,” said Duncan Webb, a consultant previously hired to conduct a feasibility study on the arts center.

The budget review committee unanimously voted to recommend approval of the bond. 

Annually, the arts center could potentially generate about $1.4 million in new activity, about $300,000 in earnings and nine jobs, according to Webb.

Former Alderman Fred Teeboom spoke in opposition of the proposal, saying he is skeptical about its sustainability.

“I have about zero confidence in these numbers,” Teeboom said of the construction price tag, private donations and annual maintenance costs and operations. He stressed that five out of the nine wards in the city voted against the project at the polls last year in a non-binding vote, although the overall vote was narrowly in support.

Many residents and aldermen spoke in favor of the proposal — nearly the same proposal narrowly rejected by aldermen last year. Now, with a new Board of Aldermen at the helm, the project is once again being considered.

The full Board of Aldermen will still need to vote on the proposed bond for the project to move forward.

Nashua Local and County Government

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