One thing the Fitton Center is doing in its 25th year is reaching out to areas outside Hamilton to welcome their residents to engage with the center and its many offerings.

How Hamilton’s Fitton Center is celebrating its 25th anniversary season this month

The center, which opened in 1993, has had a strong impact on the city of Hamilton in that time span, according to Ian MacKenzie-Thurley, the center’s executive director since 2015.

“Hamilton is undergoing a fantastic renaissance right now … culturally, socially, economically, there’s fantastic things happening,” MacKenzie-Thurley said. “It’s usually about this time that everybody says, ‘You know what? We need an art center.’ And everybody starts working toward that. Well, here we are building on the renaissance and we have an art center, it’s established, it’s built.”

He said that’s because Hamilton citizens banded together in the late 1980s and early 1990s to build a legacy project to mark the city’s 200th anniversary, and they chose to build an art center.

“They had that foresight that was well before the ebbs and flows that happened here in Hamilton, and I think the Fitton Center had been one of those bedrock institutions over the last 25 years for the arts to build and to grow,” MacKenzie-Thurley said. “Not that we haven’t seen fantastic things with ArtSpace and RiversEdge and Pyramid Hill (Sculpture Park) and City of Sculpture. All of these things, they’re great partners to have, but the Fitton Center proved the arts can be a viable and exciting and instrumental part of the community, of the economy and of the city of Hamilton.”

The Fitton Center looks forward to continuing to be a catalyst for Hamilton’s ongoing economic and social growth, he said.

“We want to be working with our partners, like RiversEdge, with the city of Hamilton and of course with Spooky Nook (at Champion Mill)” once it opens in 2021, he said. “We need to be dynamic for the needs of both the community and the new faces that are going to be coming to this city, both permanent and regular.”

It’s no fluke the center scheduled events and programs with a hyper-local angle to wrap up its season-long 25th anniversary celebration.

“We’re a town of what, 63,500 people, but we continue to punch well above our weight across all parts of industry, entertainment, social justice,” he said. “We have some incredible people here, from Broadway stars to Hollywood producers to three-star commanding generals. I think it’s important that we showcase that incredible talent.”

MacKenzie-Thurley said the most common misconception he encounters about the center is that there is an admission fee, when it is free to enter the building and enjoy its galleries and free WiFi during its hours of operation six days a week.

While membership to the center is not required, it does gain one “considerable discounts” for various shows and events. Full price tickets to shows are $35, while member rates are $27. Fitton Family Friday tickets are $5 and $7 for members and non-members, respectively.

The Fitton Center offers more than 100 scholarships for classes each year to people of all ages.

Donations, sponsorships and purchase of tickets help the independent non-profit continue its mission of serving the city and its residents.

“By coming to the Fitton Center to buy a ticket, take a class, to buy a piece of art, you’re helping us further our mission,” MacKenzie-Thurley said. “Every dollar we raise through our events department goes straight back into what we do for our mission of serving arts to the people of Hamilton.”

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