The concept for a municipal performing arts center seems to be morphing into a mixed use facility that could even include a community kitchen for farmers and growers to use to process foodstuffs for sale. That was Mayor Jim Fahey’s guidance during brief remarks ahead of the Village Council’s adoption establishing  an ad hoc committee “to explore the possibilities of the Corrales Performing Arts Center.”

Appointments to the seven-member committee are expected at the May 24 council meeting. They are likely to be drawn from Music in Corrales, Corrales Society of Artists, the Parks and Recreation Commission, the Corrales Arts Center, Corrales MainStreet, Inc. and villagers engaged in agriculture. One at-large member also will be named.

Fahey said the committee’s mission is “to identify and help to implement a plan to create a performing arts center that could be used for a variety of events and classes in the village of Corrales.”

Before councillors voted to establish the committee, the mayor suggested perhaps the new group’s name might be changed because it is no longer being thought of as exclusively for performances. “It would really be more of a mixed use facility.”

In that context, Fahey suggested the proposed structure might accommodate a “commercial kitchen,” the need for which has been recognized for more than a decade. Such a kitchen would be used to process food from Corrales farms and gardens that is certified by the N.M. Department of Health for sale to the public.

Discussion at the May 10 council meeting also included possible use of a performance space by the Adobe Theater. “We want them coming in from the very beginning,” he told councillors, explaining that he would like an ongoing revenue stream from use of the facility such as the theater might provide.

Although it started in Corrales more than 50 years ago, the Adobe Theater now stages productions in the North Valley, north of  the Alameda Boulevard-Fourth Street intersection. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXX VIII No.15 October 19, 2019 “CAC Seeks Performance Space, Possibly at Old Jones Residence.”)

In 2019, officers with the Corrales Arts Center held preliminary talks with the Adobe Theater. “They’re interested and we’re interested,” the CAC’s Jim Wright reported in a Corrales Comment interview October  11, 2019.

But then-Mayor Jo Anne Roake and the Village Council had not made a decision about future use of the former home of Harvey and Annette Jones and their children, Sandy and Sherry Jones, west of the post office.

The search for a performance space —for music, dance and other arts as well as theater— has been underway for  more than seven years. An earlier possibility explored was using the old “Valley Fire Station” and Community Center northeast of the Municipal Court and Council Chamber building.

Ideally, CAC would like to operate from a new structure designed and built for its needs, the center’s Bill Vega explained. But that’s unlikely to happen in the near future.

“I think there need to be some decisions made on the part of the Village as it relates to how they want to use the Jones property,” Kruger said. “And once that decision gets made then we’ll know whether that includes us or it doesn’t. And if doesn’t, we’ll have to start down another path.”

The big advantages of using space on the Jones property for a CAC facility are its central location, attractive setting  and ample parking areas, Wright, Vega and Kruger said.

Providing a better arts-related facility here would be a crucial component of the Village’s proposed designation of an arts and cultural district (See Corrales Comment Vol. XXXII No.19 November 23, 2013 “Arts & Cultural District Must Wait.”)

The three agreed that a better venue would attract a better quality and diversity of performances which could, in turn, attract more audiences. As Kruger explained, “With a better venue and a better class of performances, that begins   to draw more people to Corrales from outside of Corrales, as well as taking care of the people who live here. And that can become the economic driver for more gross receipts tax.”

Since early 2017, CAC has worked from leased space in the commercial space at 4940 Corrales Road, just north of the fire station. Arts related meetings, exhibits, talks and small performances have been held in that space.

The Village bought the 2.65-acre Jones property in June 2016. A barn and shed farther west on the parcel are now used for Corrales’ Public Works Department.

As the CAC board explores prospects for a performance space, they are engaged in a two step process. “The first thing we have to be sure of is that it is financially viable… it’s something that makes sense,” Kruger  explained. “So although we would like to have, and expect to have over time, a ground-up appropriate community theater. But we have to have a program that will sustain the facility we’re in. So the first step is to find a modest space that we can use, and perhaps even have an in-house theater group, such as The Adobe Theater.”

He said the CAC board does not intend to have the space exclusively for stage performances, or even arts activities. “It is  not intended that it be a single-purpose facility where it is just a big stage with theater seats to be used just once a month, and that’s all that goes on there.”

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