The Board of Trustees and School Committee have approved the “Hellenic Cultural & Performing Arts Center” (HCPAC) at A. Fantis, scheduled to begin summer of 2019. The enormous project will entail a complete overhaul of the current second floor space. The project, detailed below, will transform over 3,000 square feet into a state-of-the-art educational, cultural and performing arts space that will enhance school life for our families and the broader community. The Fantis PTO has already raised nearly $100,000 for this capital campaign and is focusing further fundraising efforts this year. In addition, Fantis has submitted a grant application with Investors Foundation and is working with vested donors to offer naming rights.
Fantis imbues its students and local community with a sound educational foundation and appreciation for Hellenic and American multi-cultural traditions and heritage. In support of that mission, we will provide the space and resources needed to enrich such study, including theatrical performances, musicals and a venue for showcasing the visual arts. Our Greek Department will have a functioning classroom that can be opened to include the conference center. This further strengthens our current program of daily instruction in Greek language and culture, which includes music, arts and drama. The HCPAC will create additional opportunities for in-depth study and long-term cultural exchange programs, both nationally and internationally, to foster our students’ global awareness and cultural literacy. For example, our 8th graders have an ongoing cultural exchange program with several schools in Athens that culminate in respective visits to each other’s countries to learn more about their culture, history and language.
Currently, the second floor consists of a cafeteria/auditorium with outdated and insufficient equipment, underutilized school kitchen, small classroom without windows, some storage space and two bathrooms. Fantis has acquired the services of Magnusson Architecture and Planning (MAP), whose “top priority is to assist non-profit groups, municipalities, and developers to reshape neighborhoods to improve their residents’ quality of life”. Their proposed design, attached, will transform the space by adding:
- Modern, flexible space that can hold state-of-the-art performances and other community events
- Space-saving, retractable “Insta-Theater” with enhanced acoustics, audio-visual equipment and lighting that will create an intimate and powerful performance space
- Conference center and Hellenic studies classroom that can be combined to form a larger flex space
- Divider for cafeteria increasing space utilization for arts, music, and other purposes
- Storage for art supplies, music equipment and other materials
The guiding focus of the redesign was flexibility and enhanced utilization of available floor space. By reducing the space attributed to the kitchen, bathrooms and stage, we were able to gain space for the Greek Department and conference center. With two dividing walls and a retractable stage, Fantis can house up to four events simultaneously rather than the single purpose currently offered. For example, music and art lessons can be held in the main space after-school while a Girl Scout troop utilizes the conference center and the Greek Department holds after-school enrichment. The key design element is the “Insta-Theatre” retractable stage by SICO. From a collapsed area of just 95 square feet, the stage will open up to 12 x 20 feet complete with overhead front truss and valence, overhead canopy and lighting, side tormentor wings, traveler and backstage curtain. With enhanced lighting, acoustics and A/V equipment, guests will have a compelling theatrical experience in an intimate setting where the stage will be the sole focus.
The HCPAC will also be a valuable resource for the community. The neighborhood has experienced quite a renaissance since our founding in 1963. Notwithstanding general space limitations in NYC, the need for quality and affordable event spaces will continue to rise as the population expands and expenses increase. The enhancements will allow Fantis to host even more events open to the public, such forums on college financial aid or how to handle teenage bullying. In addition, local schools, daycares and non-profit organizations will have access to an professional and economical space for events and performances, such as local theater productions, graduations, fundraising and staff development. The goal of the HCPAC is to help Fantis continue to build a thriving and enriching environment, both during and after-school, for our families and the broader community.