Proposed Arts Center in Canandaigua Gets Big Boost

By Mike Murphy

Up to $1 million may be coming to the Fort Hill Performing Arts Center Canandaigua, courtesy of the Sands family and Constellation Brands.

CANANDAIGUA — After learning of the news that up to $1 million is coming the way of the Fort Hill Performing Arts Center Canandaigua, Holger Stave, the nonprofit organization’s executive director, called it a good day for the arts.

“It’s a good day for Canandaigua,” Stave said.

The proposed performing arts center, which involves renovating the former Canandaigua Academy auditorium housed inside the Fort Hill Apartments campus, is getting a major shot in the arm, courtesy of the Sands family and Constellation Brands Inc.

Conifer Realty LLC, which owns the apartments, supports and has worked on plans for the project.

The mid-sized arts venue will be getting $500,000 for the $4.3 million project, which calls for a 460-seat theater and would host arts groups such as Rochester City Ballet, Finger Lakes Symphony Orchestra, Finger Lakes Opera and others.

Members of FHPACC are trying to raise $500,000 through the end of March as part of a capital campaign, at which point Sands and Constellation will match the total with another $500,000.

“It gives us what we need,” Stave said.

The theater will be named the Sands-Constellation Theatre, according to Gordon Estes, president of FHPACC.

“We are so thankful for the generous donation by Constellation brands and the Sands family,” Estes said in a prepared statement. “They have long been a supporter of arts and culture in the community, and we are thrilled for the impact this donation will have on our organization and community.”

The proposed theater site, which was the former Canandaigua Academy auditorium, would stage symphony orchestra concerts, ballet, opera and other performing arts events. In addition to upgrades, the group also is pursuing having a theater organ installed, Stave said.

Renovation work is expected to begin in May, with a target opening of summer 2019.

“It will truly be a great asset to the Canandaigua community,” said Rob Sands, president and CEO of Constellation Brands in a prepared statement.

Mayor Ellen Polimeni, who serves on the nonprofit’s board, said she was pleased that the Sands family and Constellation Brands stepped up and supports efforts like this for the arts.

“I think the building itself is an important community asset,” Polimeni said. “They have certainly been part of the community for years, and they know of the significance of the building.”