The Venice Island Performing Arts Center is located in Manayunk, a charming Philadelphia neighborhood and commercial district lined with renovated Victorian storefronts and mill buildings.
Designed by Buell Kratzer Powell Ltd., Venice Island’s design was inspired by the 19th Century manufacturing mills originally located on the site. The Lighting Practice joined the project team to design the theatrical lighting system for the 250-seat auditorium and stage area as well as all interior and exterior spaces.
As Venice Island continues to grow into a recreational hub in the neighborhood and region, musical performers are steadily discovering it as a gem of a venue. Philly.com featured the performing arts center’s recent headliner, Orchestra 2001, and noted the great things its executive director had to say about the space. “It’s hard to find an auditorium in Philadelphia that’s over 150 seats, affordable, and with good parking,” Adam Lesnick said. “We need four more of these in Philadelphia.”
The architectural elements of Venice Island make it an excellent spot for performers, students and theater-goers alike. “The theater’s steep rake guarantees good sight lines, with extensive rigging possible,” the Philly.com article notes. “Backstage space is surprisingly roomy, and a substantial curtain can be lowered onto the lip of the stage to turn that space into an extra room for classes should extra space be necessary.”
In addition to serving its purpose as a theater and recreational space, Venice Island provides low to no cost programming opportunities to local youth and families. TLP is proud to have been a part of the design team for this exciting and versatile addition to Philadelphia.
Manayunk’s secret performance-space gem hosts Orchestra 2001
Philly.com | February 2017
Like a cherry on the top of an architecturally complicated sundae, the Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center’s auditorium is hosting yet another performance by musicians who are left wondering why they’re only now discovering it.
The space, which opened in October 2014, is “perfect for a midsized ensemble like us,” said Adam Lesnick, executive director of Orchestra 2001. “It’s hard to find an auditorium in Philadelphia that’s over 150 seats, affordable, and with good parking. The loading dock is right here off the parking lot. Our seven-foot grand piano comes right in the door. It doesn’t get any easier than that. We need four more of these in Philadelphia.”
With the kind of program Orchestra 2001 will perform at 3 p.m. Saturday, the 250-seat auditorium allows something more than a concert to happen. Bizarre, explosive, and even terrifying, Peter Maxwell Davies’ Eight Songs for a Mad King features a feverishly deluded protagonist, portrayed by Randall Scarlata, singing and shouting in costume, and believing himself to be King George III.
It’s hard to think of any theater being an ideal home for the piece, but the orchestra’s artistic director, Jayce Ogren, says this is it, thanks to the full lighting and technical capabilities.