“FTC has turned two underused venues into powerhouse theatres. . .”
The New York Times
2016 Award of Excellence CT Main Street Business Owner of the Year
Fairfield Theatre Company, Downtown Fairfield
Fairfield Theatre Company (FTC) is a nonprofit center for the arts and culture located in the heart of Fairfield, CT. Its mission is to connect and enrich the community through the transforming power of the arts. Since its relatively modest beginnings in 2001, FTC has been reshaping the arts scene in Fairfield, providing a creative space for artists and musicians, and helping to create a vibrant and dynamic downtown.
FTC was founded in 2001 on the campus of Fairfield University. In 2004, FTC moved to its present location in a vacant industrial building that the Town owned in the heart of downtown and adjacent to the train station, courtesy of a long-term lease arrangement that was based more on a shared vision than a financial return.
In 2015, following a successful capital campaign, FTC opened The Warehouse: a new, state of the art, 8,000 square foot performing arts space, accommodating 640 patrons, to accompany the original 225-seat Stage One theater. The Warehouse pairs a classic industrial feel befitting of the building’s history, with state of the art construction and staging. The project cost in excess of $2 million was financed through a combination of donated services, $150,000 in State grant funds, and a $1.6 million capital campaign. More than 250 individual donors contributed to the capital campaign with gifts ranging from $100 to $50,000. The campaign also attracted corporate and philanthropic support.
FTC’s success is due in no small part to its unique partnership with the Town of Fairfield, which provides no-rent space in a town-owned building strategically located within steps of the downtown train station and its 1,100-space parking field. In lieu of rent, the Town receives a portion of ticket revenues through a per-ticket surcharge.
While Fairfield is blessed with a compact and walkable downtown, and a diverse array of local shops and restaurants, FTC has contributed to its resurgence and vitality. FTC now produces over 250 events each year, drawing 60,000 patrons to downtown Fairfield. In addition to The Warehouse and Stage One, FTC manages the Klein Auditorium in Bridgeport. FTC employs 13 full-time employees and has an annual operating budget of $3 million. All told, it is estimated that FTC generates nearly $5 million in economic activity to the Town of Fairfield.
FTC attracts thousands of visitors to Fairfield each year, benefitting area hotels, local restaurants and other businesses, and helping to create a dynamic and vibrant downtown. FTC has partnered with the Town on numerous special events, including Fairfield Restaurant Week, Fairfield Family Fun Fest, and impromptu Friday “Happy Hour” parties held in the FTC parking lot during the summer.
FTC also supports many local nonprofit organizations – from Operation Hope, to Habitat for Humanity, to the Wakeman Boys & Girls Club – providing a first class venue for fund-raising events and charitable causes. Recently, the Town has worked with FTC and other partners to create a Fairfield Arts/Tourism Committee, which works collaboratively to raise the profile of, and increase visitation to, each of its member organizations. With FTC’s leadership, the Committee is developing an updated Town Map & Guide and “Experience Fairfield” website to enhance the visitor experience.
Fairfield Theatre Company illustrates the importance of the arts, and arts organizations, in creative placemaking and downtown revitalization efforts.