New ‘Arts Annex’ planned in downtown Dayton

A new performing arts venue could be coming to downtown Dayton.

Victoria Theatre Association is proposing to put its next venue at the corner of Ludlow and Second streets in the Courthouse Crossing building.

The Arts Annex, as the project is called, could open around the fall of 2018 as long as the funding and lease come together, said Ken Neufield, president and CEO of the association.

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The association now operates the the Victoria Theatre, Schuster Center and The Loft Theatre, showing Broadway, comedy, concerts and children’s performances.

The $1.5 million project proposed by the association would transform the chronically vacant first floor space into a venue that would be for a mix of special events, educational programing and performances.

The Victoria Theatre Association is seeking $500,000 in state funds for this and is among projects asking the Dayton Development Coalition to advocate on their behalf for public project money.

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“We’re looking at capital costs of about $1.5 million. We’re not there so we need to hope that we can secure some funding at the state level,” Neufield said.

The coalition’s Priority Development and Advocacy Committee will sort through the dozens of requests it received and pick a list of priorities in the Dayton region to advocate for at the federal and state level.

Besides the request to the state, the VTA has about $143,000 in confirmed individual donors, about $52,000 more expected from individuals, $550,000 confirmed from foundations, $25,000 from corporations and $250,000 from Montgomery County.

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The Montgomery County Arts and Cultural District, a part of the county government that supports the arts, submitted a letter of support for the project, stating the VTA is employs a large workforce and plays an important role in the area's quality of life.

“Where its other facilities might be too large, the Arts Annex will be a space that is accessible to more groups and organizations from all sectors of the community and will draw new audiences and consumers to Downtown Dayton,” stated Matthew Dunn, the district’s executive director.

The VTA has been working on the proposed new venue for a couple of years, said Neufield, but the lease negotiation went on hold when the building went into receivership. Now the building is under new ownership and lease negotiations have resumed.

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