The first day of the second semester marked a seminal moment in Middlesex history as the School officially opened The Bass Arts Pavilion and the Danoff Visual Arts Center. At the center of the Bass Arts Pavilion lies our fully renovated and expanded Kaye Main Stage Theatre with balcony seating that allows the entire student body and the faculty to fit comfortably as an audience for performances, guest speakers, and all-school assemblies. Among the most exciting improvements to the theatre is a motorized orchestra pit that can be raised up to stage level. “This is going to alleviate a lot of design challenges,” explains Ryan DuBray, Director of Technical Theatre and Design. “We won’t have to create a special place for musicians on stage anymore or remove seats from the audience for them.”
The Pavilion also features a 150-seat black box theatre that is perfect for rehearsals, theatre classes, and smaller performances. With a real black box theatre, the program will gain a flexible performance space and a great classroom. “I’ll teach in the studio theatre,” says Tom Kane, Director of the Theatre Program, “which will also provide an alternate rehearsal space while the technical crew works on the main stage sets.” Behind the scenes, meanwhile, are state-of-the-art resources for Middlesex casts and stage crews, including large, brightly lit dressing rooms and a dedicated space just for hair and makeup.
The Bass Arts Pavilion is connected seamlessly with the Danoff Visual Arts Center. Here, Middlesex artists will enjoy dedicated spaces for ceramics, digital photography, and digital media, along with two light-filled, top-floor studios for drawing and painting. The creativity of Middlesex’s own students will also find new expression and visibility in fresh, modern studios and display areas. Work by Middlesex students—as well as featured exhibitions from professional artists—will be featured in the Ishibashi Gallery, which was given by Hiroshi Ishibashi ’66 to mark his 50th reunion. To complement his generous contribution, Hiroshi’s classmates directed their reunion gifts toward an endowment that will support the utilization of the gallery and help bring in exhibitions. “There is no better way to learn than to study with someone who is passionate and who has a commitment to practice in the real world,” explains Visual Arts Department Head Stacey McCarthy, who has been working to establish a robust visiting artist program. “You really need a space that artists are drawn to exhibit their work, where it is protected and can be showcased in a way that is exciting.” Because the Ishibashi Gallery will be a dedicated, secure area, Stacey anticipates being able to attract more professional artists to campus. “It will be great to have a space that honors the work,” she notes.
The upper floor of the Danoff Visual Arts Center features two sizable art history rooms and a great, multipurpose space that is currently dubbed the “Best Room on Campus” because of its fantastic view of the Circle and the Chapel beyond. And beside that is be a special mindfulness studio overlooking the tranquil Bateman’s Pond.
With the opening of the Bass Arts Pavilion and Danoff Center for the Visual Arts, the School provides extraordinary facilities that are commensurate with the quality of Middlesex’s exceptionally talented artists and teachers. Between the Danoff Center for the Visual Arts and the renovated theatre, Middlesex artists will enjoy, as Head of School Kathy Giles puts it, “the upgrade that modernity requires. We designed these buildings to provide our students with great, well-lit space, and now the facilities’ features reflect the sophistication and excellence of the work that’s being done there.”