Catskill's New Art Center Brings Celebrity Talent to the Valley
Alan Cumming and Savion Glover led a rousing grand opening of the Greene County venue.
Photos courtesy of Lumberyard
A sellout crowd christened Lumberyard Performing Arts Center, a venue that can host artists, incubate blockbuster live theater, and house production of film and TV.
Tony Award-winner Alan Cumming was master of ceremonies at the venue’s grand opening Sept. 1. He presented a — shall we say — colorful and entertaining commentary that began with "F*** Broadway" and continued in a somewhat medical fashion before lavishing praise on Lumberyard and its leader, Adrienne Willis.
Alan Cumming welcomes guests.
The praise is well-deserved. Willis paved the way for Lumberyard, which began as the American Dance Institute in Maryland, to find a new home in 2016 at the former Dunn Building and Supply Center on Water Street on the banks of the Catskill Creek. Construction began in earnest last year to turn the rambling site into a two-story, 7,000-plus sq ft locale with 13 artists’ rooms, a common area, multiple rehearsal areas and dressing areas, and a black box theater space that’s also a fully equipped soundstage.
More than 400 people filled the lobby and the rustic courtyard area on opening night to listen to a jazz band and enjoy hors d’oeuvres and champagne before members of Lumberyard’s Junior Crew drew back dazzling silver curtains and ushered the crowd into the theater.
A crowd gathers on opening day.
Willis took the stage to thank the crowd. She invited onstage everyone involved in bringing Lumberyard to life, and also explained the “It Takes a Valley” fundraiser, which has brought needed funding to the nonprofit’s community social justice programs: the local Young Performers after-school program; the Fresh Start arts education intervention at Hudson Correctional Facility; and Junior Crew, work experience for local at-risk youth.
Afterward, tap virtuoso Savion Glover mesmerized the crowd from the moment he tied his white tap shoes onto his bare feet until the final cymbal crash from accompanying drummer Marcus Gilmore.
As the crowd caught its breath, Cumming took the stage (with one of his pet dogs, because who can resist a puppy?) to drum up pledges via texts to Lumberyard. Senator George Amedore was the biggest benefactor that night, presenting $1 million in state economic development funding to help repay the $5 million impact investment loan received from the Rudolf Steiner Foundation last August. Lumberyard’s also benefited from a $500,000 grant through the state’s Empire State Development Program.
Lumberyard has a full schedule of events planned through the autumn. For information, visit www.lumberyard.org.
Adrienne Willis with Senator George Amedore