In recent weeks, construction has begun on Concord Academy’s ambitious West Campus project, which includes the addition of the new performing arts building dubbed the Centennial Arts Center, or CAC. The CAC and its construction process have become a matter of contention within the student body, especially following the all-school assembly on March 1st. The topic continues to draw widely varying opinions. This article will endeavor to report on CA’s committed excitement about this campus addition and its anticipated communal benefits and address specific concerns students have raised.
First, we should understand what the CAC is. Concord Academy has placed significant efforts into campus improvement this past decade in honor of its centennial. These undertakings include the completion of CA Labs, Bailey Commons, and the renovations of boarding houses. The CAC, and the West Campus project at large, is an impressive capstone to this age of renovation. Generous donations to the Concord Academy Centennial Campaign, a fundraising campaign that simultaneously contributes to expanding the school’s endowment, fund the CAC’s construction. Students concerned with the use of tuition to fund this project can rest easy: the school will not use tuition income to pay for the new arts center.
The building will host within it a remarkably flexible 175-seat theater which one can reconfigure for dance performances or to form untraditional stages (like a theater in the round!), as well as a 125-seat music recital hall and individual practice rooms, which anyone who’s been in the PAC during ensemble block knows we desperately need. A recently drafted frequently asked questions document about the CAC implores the community to consider the vast and wondrous rebirth the new building will give to the performing arts department: “The anticipated impact is powerful: Students who love to perform, make art, and exercise their creativity will have the space, tools, and teaching to expand beyond what has been possible on campus before.”
For those grappling with feelings of indifference, the CAC will provide more dynamic academic and communal opportunities for all our community members. The new building will supply plenty of hangout and study spaces and host interdisciplinary academic ventures such as film, digital media, and English classes. The new set workshop can also host opportunities for architecture and design students. To those with a freshly minted driver’s license mourning the loss of parking: CA’s FAQs promise that should students struggle with finding public parking, a “parking contingency plan” is at the ready.
No matter who you are or your role on campus, there is plenty to look forward to regarding the Centennial Arts Center. Chameleon Chamber Player and Arts Council Member Nick Brady ’24 expressed, “It’s incredibly exciting to have this new edition to the arts experience at CA. I hope that it will inspire current and future students to pursue the arts with greater fervor.” The performing arts are an integral part of CA’s curriculum, and strengthening their presence on campus will only enrich the academic experience. It will be exciting to see all the opportunities the CAC will offer in 2025!