BAYarts takes on the Playhouse

BAYarts received cleaning help from the Bay High School boys soccer team to help move items from the upstairs of the Playhouse and down to the lower floor. Also assisting were the Bay High girls soccer players plus coaches and assistant coaches. Photo by Peter Winzig

Its official! After months of speculation, BAYarts has reached an agreement with Cleveland Metroparks that will save the Playhouse and meet BAYarts' need for more space to bring you more great programming.  

“The Cleveland Metroparks fully supports the BAYarts rehabilitation of the facility,” said Brian M. Zimmerman, chief executive officer of Cleveland Metroparks. “We sought a viable, qualified entity to develop plans for renovation and vibrant programming for the building. BAYarts brings innovative and valuable arts education and events to the region and enjoys a positive relationship with the Park District.”

BAYarts' plan for the building is to expand on all of the education programming and community events BAYarts already offers and add theater to the class curriculum and performance schedules.

“BAYarts has always seen the potential for many different types of programming in the building,” said BAYarts Executive Director Nancy Heaton. “There will be a performance stage, yes, but also much-needed classrooms to expand on BAYarts' art education focus in addition to  community gathering spaces and makers’ spaces.”

BAYarts has retained the architect John Williams of Process Creative Studios, inspired by his work with other art and theater venues (SPACES Gallery, Dobama Theater, Transformer Station and Artful Studios) with similar challenges for multi-use spaces – and his creative solutions.

The best part is, there will be minimal impact on the footprint of the park other than improvements to the surrounding landscape like the large patio behind the building with spectacular views of Porter Creek. A theme that weaves through BAYarts' campus is how the park is the inspiration for much of the programming. BAYarts board member Mary Conway Sullivan said it best: “WHO we are is WHERE we are,” she said, meaning we wouldn’t be BAYarts without this beautiful location and inspiration all around us.

BAYarts Programming Director Erin Stack feels there is a lot of untapped potential for both youth and adult programming. “I’ve heard from a lot of students and parents that they’d love to do some type of theater class,” said Stack. “Our plan is to integrate theater classes into our current curriculum. There’s some untapped areas of fine art we’d still like to explore too.”  

BAYarts has enlisted the services of Bay Village resident and professional actress Maryann Nagel who, besides having acted and taught at Huntington Playhouse, has a long career with youth and adult theater programming at Playhouse Square, Cleveland Orchestra, community theaters and area schools.

Another Playhouse alumni, actress and occasional Bay Village resident, Patricia Heaton, chimed in: “I am so happy to hear about the playhouse renovation; which has always held a special place in my heart; I took summer acting classes there and performed in the chorus of 'Bells Are Ringing' and 'Showboat' when I was 14! I believe this could be an incredible theatrical arts and education center and I’d love to be part of the process.”

The theater will have modern technology and flexible seating which will allow for other programming as well: concerts, visiting dance and performance groups, “Ted”-like talks, poetry slams, the list goes on.

“I am excited about BAYarts expanding their programming to the former Playhouse,” said Bay Village Mayor Paul Koomar. “Under Nancy Heaton’s leadership BAYarts will continue to thrive and flourish for the residents of Bay Village and northeast Ohio.”

Then there’s a more practical side. “The outpouring of encouragement from the community is what ultimately convinced us to commit to this project,” said BAYarts Board President Peter Winzig. “As an affiliate organization, BAYarts receives no direct funding from Cleveland Metroparks or the city of Bay Village, so the renovation will be dependent on continued community support and donor participation that has been key our success so far.”

BAYarts has kicked off a naming rights campaign which can be found on the website,, and other fundraising will be announced in the coming weeks. To keep track of the progress, share ideas and announce volunteer and job opportunities, BAYarts will launch a blog. 

Jessica Stockdale

Jessica Stockdale is the Marketing Manager at BAYarts.

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Volume 9, Issue 15, Posted 9:30 AM, 08.01.2017