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Fort Hill Performing Arts Center, Inc.(FHPAC) has been formed in order to provide the greater community in this upstate region with a well-equipped commercial stage and production facility at a reasonable cost to the user. The theatre is located in the former Canandaigua Academy on North Main Street. It is a part of the Fort Hill residential apartment complex. FHPAC will renew and make use of an unused portion of the apartment complex, adding value, while giving the residents easy access to great entertainment. FHPAC is central to the upstate New York region, minutes from major routes and served by public transportation as well.
The chief governing body of FHPAC is the Board of Directors which is composed of 14 members. The specifics of the structure are set down in the corporation by-laws. FHPAC has incorporated under New York State Not-for-Profit status, and has raised funds to purchase all necessary insurance policies to cover liability, directors, and volunteers. FHPAC has 501c3 status to allow donors to make tax deductible contributions.
Gordon Estey (President of the FHPAC Board) attended school in this building, learning about theatre production on this stage, and then managing this theatre before starting his career of 44 years in technical theatre, including Broadway summer stock and professional lighting and scenic design, stage management, facility management and technical direction. He has been involved with over 460 productions to date. Gordon serves as lighting designer and technical director for Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Rochester City Ballet, Rochester Broadway Theatre League, Finger Lakes Opera and many local and regional companies. Gordon owns his own theatrical rental and production company formed in 1973 and serves as a sales rep for Reynolds drapery, builder of theatrical draperies and accessories. He previously served as director for fundraising events for UR Thompson health and director of events at Sonnenberg Gardens and many venues throughout the state over the last 25 years. Gordon recently retired from Canandaigua City School District having been manager of the Academy Theatre for 25 years. Gordon was one of the designers of the new Academy Theatre in 1985.
The day-to-day operations of FHPAC will be overseen by a paid Executive Director working for the Board of Directors. The principal duties for the Director include: Supervising the day-to-day function, operation, booking, maintaining the use schedule and overseeing the volunteer coordinator/marketing director and box office staff. Management will include a user paid stage manager, safety coordinator and technical director.
Sueann Townsend (Executive Director) enjoyed a 20-year career on stage as a professional dancer in Classical Ballet companies, Modern Dance companies, Commercial shows, and as a freelance artist both nationally and internationally. After concluding her performing career, she worked as a teacher, coach, ballet master, and repetiteur. Concurrent with this, she worked as a stage electrician, spotlight operator, video wall engineer, and in production management for both stage and corporate events as a member of I.A.T.S.E 720 in Las Vegas.
She was the Executive/Artistic Director of Amherst (Massachusetts) Ballet from 2011-2017. During this time, she reinvigorated the 40-year old organization through ambitious programming balanced with fiscal responsibility. She began the Ballet for All! initiative which brought engagement with classical ballet training to dancers aged 8 to 80 throughout three Massachusetts counties, and to the inner-city children of Springfield, Massachusetts. As part of this initiative, she produced a week-long workshop with Ilya Kuznetsov, master teacher from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy. She initiated AB’s first corporate giving schema, first major grant-writing endeavor, and successfully led many collaborative projects between AB and other regional arts organizations.
Her knowledge of Classical Ballet is comprehensive, and her knowledge of theatrical production, production management, and non-profit administration is extensive.
FHPAC Board of Directors: Gordon J. Estey, President; Rosemary Park, Vice President; Tom Davis, Recording Secretary; Nancy Yacci, Corresponding Secretary; Deborah Wilbur, Treasurer. At large members; Cheryl Drake, Melody Drake Johnson, Adrienne Kantz, Scott Kesel, William Kenyon, Fred Magley, Ellen Polimeni, Belle Sargent, Linda Bell.
A volunteer stage crew, ushers as well as ticket takers, cleaners and event management staff will be assembled by the volunteer coordinator.
The management will train and provide educational opportunities for local high school students to work in a commercial theatre along with adult volunteers in many production and management positions.