CARLSBAD — The New Village Arts will don a new look to ring in the new year.
The Carlsbad-based nonprofit is preparing to unveil its refurbished performing arts facility, highlighted by a new stage, light and sound systems for its 100-seat theater, a revamped ticket office, a smaller secondary stage to expand its offerings and a large mural spanning the entire back wall of the building.
The $2.8 million renovation began months earlier alongside moving most of its productions to the Flower Fields during the pandemic, according to founder and executive artistic director Kristianne Kurner.
Kurner and several other staffers held a private tour on Dec. 9 to update media and other stakeholders on the organization’s remodel progress. According to Kurner, renovations will be complete in early January, followed by a ribbon cutting on Jan. 27 and a community grand opening on Jan. 28.
“We wanted to keep the hallmark of what makes New Village Arts so special,” Kurner said.
For the renovations, the group wanted the ability to offer more programming and availability to the public.
New Village expects to expand its neurodiverse programming, opening the doors to the public as a community workspace. The secondary stage is where The Foundry, the group’s former space dedicated to visual arts, will serve as a setting for new programs and opportunities.
“It feels like coming home,” Jones said. “We were rehearsing, and it was like, ‘This is great.’ I missed it. There are many new toys, but there’s still a warmth and the comfort of being on this stage.”
In 2020, the COVID shutdown forced New Village to offer outdoor performances at the Flower Fields. As restrictions slowly lifted, the arts center was able to return to indoor performances shortly before renovations early this year temporarily closed its doors once again.
But the problematic period of closures gave the leadership team and board an opportunity to reassess and adapt to the massive changes throughout the industry, according to New Village managing director Rae Henderson-Gray.
“We got to reassess what is most important to us as a theater,” Henderson-Gray said. “It allowed us to reconnect to those things, and it helped us flush out the vision for this new space. We’ve taken quite a bit of time off … we’re excited we had that time to reimagine.”
The shutdowns also gave the organization plenty of time to fundraise, generating $2.3 million to date, including a $500,000 grant from the Conrad Prebys Foundation. With $500,000 remaining, Kurner said they would reach their goal.
The first show, “The Ferryman,” opens Feb. 4 and runs through April 5, with Joy Yvonne Jones, New Village’s associate artistic director, starring as the lead. The show depicts life in Northern Ireland in 1981 during “The Troubles,” a nearly 40-year ethnic-nationalist conflict between predominantly Protestant England and primarily Catholic Ireland.
Ahmed Dents, also a New Village associate artistic director, said the nonprofit would host several pre-show offerings to explain the complex political and social unrest in Northern Ireland. New Village Art’s “Ferryman” production, directed by Kurner, marks the first time the show has been produced outside Broadway and London’s West End.
“That is a world premier outside the West End and Broadway,” Dents said. “We are incredibly proud and humbled to get the opportunity to be the first company in the world to present this show outside Broadway and the West End.”
New Village Arts’ 21st season is currently underway with “1222 Oceanfront: A Black Family Christmas,” running at four locations. The theater returns in 2023 with “The Ferryman,” followed by “The Roommate” from April 23 to May 23 and “Singing in the Rain” from June 12 to July 3.