Public Forum on the Briggs Opera House
Public Forum on the Briggs Opera House

I want to thank the people who braved the weather and then stood to speak at the forum we hosted last Wednesday January 21st. It was good to be able to share the “road less traveled” of the past 30 years which is triumphantly leading to the Barrette Arts Center / home of Northern Stage!

A friend trying to provoke (which is what really good friends do best) said… “why would you invite the community to tell you what to do with your own property?” Of course the answer is we did not feel obligated to follow through on any one specific concept. This was more about confirming that the many things which have been considered and discussed with talented designers and even developers have not overlooked something. And it promised to reveal a few more completely new insights. We went away feeling like we got both the confirmation and at least two important reminders.

One was the perception of the space as inaccessible must be overcome so that the image of that long unforgettable stairway to Northern Stage is not (but never has been) seen as the only way to get there and back. The other breakthrough was to think more expansively about how the presence of a the VA can be factored in. Many programs being run there could potentially be more integrated into the community and not left to an otherwise isolated compound. Whether or not these new horizons lead to the Briggs Opera House is not the only issue. There are many ways this could happen and in many spaces.

So it was a good night. We had some fun in sharing the 125 year story of the place. We acknowledged  and thanked many, many folks who have led to the revival of WRJ and the future of Northern Stage. Now we have a somewhat more enhanced vision of what can come next and are working on that every day.

There should be a most hopeful series of happenings over the coming weeks and months. And I don’t think anyone will be disappointed given the vitality and the value-set of our Upper Valley community.

On behalf of myself and the Briggs Family,

Thanks again.

Dave Briggs


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