Hartford Stage (hartfordstage.org), under the leadership of artistic director Michael Wilson and managing director Jim Ireland, has been approved for a $669,000 grant-in-aid from the State of Connecticut Office of Policy and Management with the approval of the State Bonding Commission. The funding will allow the Tony Award-winning institution to releocate its existing scene shop, paint space, and prop storage from separate locations to once location, at 117 Murphy Road in Hartford. The grant consists of $609,000 for construction and mechanical improvements to the already existing 24,000-sq.-ft. building and an additional $60,000 for Department of Economic and Community Development costs associated with the project.

Hartford Stage board of directors president says, "On behalf of Hartford Stage, I would like to extend our thanks to Governor John Rowland, Mark Ryan, and the Office of Policy and Management for once again showing their generous support of the arts in Connecticut. This funding allows the theatre to improve the work environment for our scene shop, paint space, and properties employees by providing a consolidated workspace that will have all the scenic elements under one roof for the first time in many years."

Currently the Hartford Stage scene shop is located at 50 Church St. in downtown Hartford, while the prop storage and paint space occupy adjoining warehouse spaces in East Hartford. Artistic director Wilson says, "With our expanded programming and increased production schedule, we have outgrown the confines of our present scene shop. With its location adjacent to the performance space, our workers would have to stop hammering and sawing when a performance was in progress, which meant that we could not schedule additional educational matinees and stay on schedule with the builds for the next production. By having the new shop space offsite, we will be able to serve even more Connecticut schoolchildren with our matinee series."

At present, the theatre constructs scenic elements at the Hartford venue, transports the pieces to the East Hartford space or painting, then returns them to Hartford for installation. By consolidating the facilities, construction and painting will occur at the same site.

Katherine Lambert of Shipman & Goodwin, LLP has served as chairperson of Hartford Stage's facilities committee and has been instrumental in locating and securing the new facility on Murphy Rd. While the space needs of the location were adequate for the theatre, leasehold improvements were required for the building to become a workable space. These improvements included construction and mechanical projects as well s new equipment. Michael Hanley and Jay Malcynski of Gaffney Bennett represented Hartford Stage in requesing the grant-in-aid from the State of Connecticut Office of Policy and Management. The theatre intends to move into the new scene shop within the upcoming 2002-03 season.