Millennial chic? Downtown Dayton’s Arts Annex wants new audiences

When it opens in September, the new downtown Arts Annex will be unlike anything else in the region and should draw different audiences than those that usually patronize the Schuster Center and Victoria Theatre, supporters say.

The Arts Annex, located at West Second and North Ludlow streets, will cater to cutting-edge theater companies that have outgrown the Mathile Theatre, which is the black box at the Schuster Center.

The Mathile Theatre has about 89 seats. The Arts Annex has 200. And the annex theater space is flexible, meaning the number of seats can be reduced to create a more intimate atmosphere if needed.

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The design and feel of the Arts Annex space will be “millennial chic,” featuring polished concrete floors, open ceilings and lots of color, said Ken Neufeld, president and CEO of the Victoria Theatre Association.

The Victoria Theatre Association is spending about $1.5 million on construction for the Arts Annex, Neufeld said.

And the association also wants to construct a new video wall on the Second Street side of the building, which faces the Schuster Center across the street.

The association wants to use the video billboard to advertise upcoming shows and events at theaters and arts venues in downtown, including the Arts Annex, Schuster, Victoria, the Neufeld said.

“We think it will add dynamism to the street, we think it will be an exciting addition to downtown and we think it’s just adding to our little bit of Times Square,” he said.

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The Oregon District is getting a similar kind of electronic sign at its eastern end, which is supposed to serve as a gateway into the area. The Arts Annex sign will be able to stream video.

Homeowners at Performance Place said they were concerned that the new video wall could contribute to “light pollution” downtown if it was allowed to have streaming video and changing displays and levels of light and color around the clock.

Neufeld said the theater association would be OK with stopping or doing something to minimize the video displays after a certain time at night.

The Arts Annex space has been vacant for about 15 years. The four-story building, on the upper floors, also is home to the Area Agency on Aging and CareSource.

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