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Sitting in the hushed cool of the Edmond Town Hall Theatre one recent morning, it almost felt like the curtain was ready to go up on something big.
For Chamber of Commerce Development Director Helen Brickfield the big news is that Edmond Town Hall has become one of the chamber’s newest members, and is poised to host one of the organization’s most high-profile events of the year: Destination Newtown. For facility manager Sheila Torres, the chamber partnership and the role Edmond Town Hall is playing as host for Destination Newtown are evidence that the long-serving government center is ready for a reinvention of sorts as a gathering place for community members, business functions, arts and cultural happenings, sporting activities, and much more.
“Edmond Town Hall decided to join the chamber because we’re so dedicated to promoting local businesses,” Ms Brickfield said. “And this location fits perfectly with the theme of this year’s Destination event, which is ‘There’s No Place Like Newtown.’ It’s a great opportunity to showcase this building as one of our newest members and a local event destination.”
“This facility is run by a quasi-public agency because we depend on some local tax revenue for our upkeep and improvements — but we have to generate our own operating revenue for the most part,” Ms Torres added. “So we partnered with the chamber because we want people and businesses in Newtown to start looking at our spaces differently.”
Ms Torres said the town hall has the spaces and flexibility to host celebratory events like birthdays, retirement parties, testimonials, and anniversary gatherings for small or large groups. The facility also continues to serve as a showplace for films and a growing number of live activities, from musical theater to intimate concerts.
Creative energy is already pulsing through Edmond Town Hall thanks to a pair of current tenants — the Lathrop School of Dance and Newtown Arts, a studio that promotes enrichment and activities centered around the arts. The building also has a variety of other tenants, including the Chamber of Commerce office, the Newtown VNA Thrift Shop and free medical supply loan closet, and is the home of Newtown Bridge Club.
“They’re practically a tenant,” Ms Torres said of the feisty group of welcoming Bridge players. “They rent space here four days a week, and they bring in a lot of passionate players, as well as inviting new visitors who want to learn the game. Edmond Town Hall is really coming into its own as a multigenerational community magnet.”
Ms Brickfield pointed to the large front courtyard that serves as a launching or staging location for community events, from children’s activities on Halloween night to the annual departure event for Newtown’s Team 26 cycling contingent as they head off each spring to Washington, DC. Even the rear parking lot is utilized, with an annual HAM radio enthusiasts’ swap meet and festival, and the Lions Club’s Great Pumpkin races.
The facility offers six separate meeting rooms varying in size, that can be rented individually or bundled with business activities and seminars as breakout rooms for talks or classes. The newly renovated commercial kitchen can be rented separately, as well, or utilized in conjunction with events in the adjacent Alexandria Room.
And besides various basketball and sporting activities, the large lower gym is perfect for kids’ parties and even hosts an auction service.
Then it’s back to the theater, with its newly installed comfy high-back seats, a new sound, LED lighting, and digital projection systems.
“Beyond its most frequent use for showing our weekly run of movies, we want regional businesses to consider our building and its theater as a place for large business or corporate gatherings or annual retreats,” Ms Torres said. “We can piggyback activities in here with the breakout meeting rooms, offer breakfast, lunch, or dinner service in the Alexandria Room, and even team-building activities in the gym.”
The facility has also taken out a temporary liquor permit for events and activities through the fall.
The coming weeks will be very busy for the chamber. Destination Newtown with its trade show and “Taste of Newtown” sampling of restaurant fare is slated for Wednesday, September 28, from 4 to 7 pm. That main event is preceded by a Business Networking Reception from 2:30 to 4 pm, with a $10 charge for current chamber members and a $15 charge for nonmembers.
Light refreshments will be available.
“Destination Newtown is our premiere networking event for our members to interact with the local community,” said Chamber President Tim Haas. “Newtowners come to this event to learn about local businesses while enjoying the best of what Newtown has to offer. Everyone should attend.”
Destination Newtown admission is free, and welcomes the entire family with not only a wide participation from local businesses, but a family corner, tours of the town hall, live music, trivia, games, raffles, prizes, and a brand-new “What Newtown Means to You” canvas art project.
The chamber is also hosting another of its highest-profile events on September 13. The Chamber’s 9th Annual Golf Outing is happening at Newtown Country Club, with registration opening at 10 am.
A grilled lunch on the patio will be served at 11 am and golf commences at noon, followed by a “Business After Hours” gathering, dinner, and silent auction at 5 pm. Participants can come for the day, or opt to just attend post-golf activities and networking.
Single entry fee is $150, $600 for a foursome, and $50 for admission to the after golf event. Register online at newtown-ct.com.
For details on the Golf Outing or Destination Newtown, call the Newtown Chamber of Commerce at 203-426-2695, or follow on Facebook and Instagram.
For information about rentals and other activities at Edmond Town Hall, call 203-270-4285, follow on Facebook and Twitter, or visit edmondtownhall.org.