Frequently Asked Questions About The Mirror Theater
These FAQ's were written jointly by a committee comprised of GAAR and GPACT members. We've also updated this FAQ with new questions and answers at the bottom.
1. WHO OWNS THE MIRROR THEATER LAND AND BUILDING?
The land and building are owned by the Greensboro Performing Arts Center Trust, LTD (GPACT). GPACT is a not-for-profit trust founded by a generous local philanthropist who has sought to make a no-strings-attached gift to a theater organization, community and State he loves. The Mirror Theater will serve as the new home for the Greensboro Arts Alliance & Residency (GAAR). GAAR will be the Mirror Theater’s resident, not-for-profit, theater and performing arts organization.
2. WHAT IS THE CURRENT STATUS OF THE MIRROR THEATER?
The Mirror Theater is currently under construction, with site work having begun in late August 2015. All permits necessary to complete the building have been acquired at both the State and Local levels. The building is fully constructible. We plan to apply for two minor amendments to our existing permit at the local level that will enhance both the building’s use and aesthetic quality. First, we are seeking permission to construct a small storage/scenery shed. Second, we wish to add a cupola-like structure to the top of the roof. This cupola-like structure is similar in function to the cupolas currently adorning the new Greensboro Firehouse, and aims to further enhance the rural and aesthetic character of the building.
3. WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE MIRROR THEATER, THE MIRROR THEATER LTD, THE MIRROR REPERTORY COMPANY (MRC), AND THE GREENSBORO ARTS ALLIANCE AND RESIDENCY (GAAR)?
The Mirror Theater LTD is a not for profit company that was granted 501(c) (3) tax exempt status in 1982 by the United States Internal Revenue Service on the basis of its services to the arts and to the public interest. GAAR and the Mirror Repertory Company are both d/b/a (“doing business as”) programs of the Mirror Theater LTD; they are all one single entity. The Mirror Theater LTD was founded by its current director who has thirty-five years of experience managing performing arts organizations. GAAR was founded by this same director in 2005 and has grown steadily since then. Both the Mirror Theater LTD and GAAR have worked with some of the finest actors, directors and producers in American stage, screen and television, and have worked bring some of the very best professional performing artists to work with the local artists and community members of rural Vermont.
4. HOW WILL THE MIRROR THEATER BE USED?
The property will be used as a performing arts center for the benefit of the public. It will make performing arts, live theater, concerts, dance programs and other cultural activities more available and more accessible to all. It will provide a venue for educational organizations to offer performing arts programs and for enhancing educational and cultural opportunities for the entire community as well as visitors on a not-for-profit basis. The facility will be made available year-round to local arts organizations such as Craftsbury Chamber Players, Summer Music From Greensboro, Caspian Monday Music, Ballet Wolcott, Get Thee To The Funnery, Circus Smirkus, and others in the area. It is anticipated that various area schools and non-profits such as Lakeview Union, Hazen Union, Craftsbury Academy, Wonder & Wisdom, Sterling College and others will utilize the facility. The facility is not a school, per se, but will be available for educational programs. The building will be open to civic organizations and events (such as Town Meeting).
5. HOW WILL THE MIRROR THEATER AFFECT PROPERTY TAXES?
Under Vermont law, real estate that is “used for public, pious or charitable” purposes is exempt from property taxation. Based on anticipated use, the Mirror Theater would meet the statutory requirements for exempt status, as more specifically defined in Vermont statutes and case law. The property will be unconditionally dedicated to public use, will benefit an indefinite class of persons who are part of the public, and will be owned and operated on a not-for-profit basis. Importantly, the Mirror Theater facility may even help alleviate the burden of property taxes for the community, as it may obviate the need for local schools to invest in newer, more modern auditoriums for music and theater. For example, Hazen Union has considered building a new $5,000,000 auditorium. The Mirror Theater’s existence might help the community entirely avoid that large expense.
6. WHAT WILL BE THE MIRROR THEATER’S IMPACT ON MUNICIPAL SERVICES?
The District Environmental Commission has determined there will be no adverse impacts on municipal services. The District Environmental Commission has found that there is sufficient water available for the Theater. The Theater will reduce traffic and parking problems in Greensboro in that it will provide much needed off-street parking. Staff will be employed to direct traffic if deemed necessary for specific events.
7. WHAT ARE THE ECONOMIC BENEFITS OF THE MIRROR THEATER TO THE SURROUNDING COMMUNITY?
The 2015 Greensboro Arts Alliance & Residency Season employed over sixty Vermonters in a variety of capacities, from full-time artists, administrators, and technicians, to part-time box office staffers, carpenters, stage and light crew, and many other jobs. GAAR also brought in two dozen visiting artists and technicians, all of whom were housed in local housing paid for by GAAR. The money for these employees is raised through donations and earned income, and is recycled through the local economy. In addition, theater and musical performances bring people from other communities to Greensboro who likewise contribute to our local economy. As a secondary economic impact, the Theater will help expose visitors to some of our community's extraordinary products such as Pete's Greens, Jasper Hill Cheese, Hill Farmstead Brewery, Caledonia Spirits and others.
8. HOW MANY SEATS?
The stage of the Mirror Theater is inspired by Elizabethan theaters such as the Globe or the smaller Wannamaker theater. Accordingly, the theater space has multiple seating configurations: three-quarter thrust, theater-in-the-round, circus-style, and proscenium. The largest of these configurations is the proscenium configuration, planned and approved to seat 277.
9. WHAT IS THE PUBLIC’S ROLE IN THE DESIGN AND PLANNING PROCESS OF THE MIRROR THEATER?
Over the last two years the Mirror Theater has gone through a very thorough public review process. Many of these frequently asked questions were first addressed in this process. At the local level, the project has been through the public Development Review Board (DRB) and Zoning Process. At the State level, the project has been reviewed under all ten criteria of Vermont's Act 250, one of the most comprehensive land use planning reviews in the country. During this process, approximately one hundred individual voices and twenty-nine separate organizations have had input into the final plan and design. The Mirror Theater has been determined to be consistent with all Town and Regional Plans.
10. WHAT ADDITIONAL FACILITIES WILL BE REQUIRED AS A RESULT OF THE MIRROR THEATER’S ADDITION TO THE COMMUNITY?
No additional facilities will be required as a result of this addition to this community. It is expected that the Mirror Theater will enhance and contribute to the stability of existing facilities such as the Highland Lodge, Lakeview Inn, Willey's Store, Miller's Thumb, and others. The facility will also offer a place where local artisans may be able to showcase their art and food products.
11. WHAT WILL BE THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF THE MIRROR THEATER?
The Mirror Theater has been designed by H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, whose founding partner, Hugh Hardy, is celebrated for his theater design in almost every state in the country, including Vermont, where he has designed the theater at Middlebury College. The Mirror Theater proposal has gone through Vermont's rigorous Act 250 environmental review process and will have screening and landscaping. Additional trees will be planted to the north of the Theater. The parking is oriented away from residential areas. The project will have a geothermal heating system and will adhere to the very highest environmental standards. Moreover, this project has enabled the perpetual preservation of 9.3 acres of primary agricultural soils through on-site mitigation for farming purposes. The protected primary agricultural soils will be maintained in a manner that will ensure they will be available for agriculture in perpetuity. These protected soils will never be developed, thereby helping to preserve the surrounding rural landscape for generations to come.
12. Is the Mirror Theater being constructed by a special interest real estate developer from outside of Greensboro?
No outside developer is involved in the project! We’ve heard of some concerns that the project has been hijacked by a special interest real estate developer, and while that would certainly make for interesting headlines, the reality is more mundane and to the contrary. The kind man paying for the project is a long-time Greensboro property owner and community member. He has established a non-profit trust to own the land and build the Mirror Theater. He has been with the project since its inception with GAAR. He is doing this as a gift to both the year-round residents and seasonal residents of our beautiful town, in order to enhance the life-experience of all. Our project is philanthropy, not a for-profit business venture.
13. What is the size of the building—is it really 35% bigger than as approved by the Greensboro Development Review Board in 2014?
No, the size of the building has not grown by 35%! We originally submitted a design for 26,000 Gross Square Footage (GSF). This design included two floors of occupied space. It also featured non-occupied technical areas not intended for human occupancy and use. Due to structural improvements, portions of this technical area must now be counted as usable space. Consequently, the GSF of the building has been increased by about a total of 293 square feet. This brings the total GSF of the building to 26,293. This means the Mirror Theater is still considerably smaller in square footage than the Craftsbury Community Care Center. It's also shorter than the new Greensboro Firehouse.
14. How many levels does the Mirror Theater have, and has the number of levels changed?
No, the number of levels has not changed! Our current application as well as our initial application featured two levels intended for public occupancy/use and a third level for technical use. Most importantly, the structural height of the building is 35’, in deference to Greensboro’s height regulations. Also in compliance with Greensboro's zoning bylaws, we have proposed a non-structural aesthetic appurtenance (also known as a cupola) that would extend to a height of 42'. More about the cupola design below.
15. Has the parking lot gotten bigger?
No, the parking lot has gotten smaller! Our initial application featured a parking lot of 91 spaces. Due to our continued emphasis on creating a more pastoral, aesthetically pleasing site, as well as a desire to increase the distance from our parking areas to the neighboring residential lots, our parking lot now offers 87 spaces. The number of parking spaces is consistent with all applicable codes/guidelines for a theater of our size. See below for more information about our revised parking proposal.
16. What is the Public’s role in the planning and design process for the Mirror Theater?
Over the last two years, the Mirror Theater has gone through a very thorough public review process! Many of these frequently asked questions were first addressed in this process. At the local level, the project has been through the public Development Review Board (DRB), which included Conditional Use and Site Plan reviews under the Greensboro zoning regulations. At the State level, the project has been reviewed under all ten criteria of Vermont's Act 250, one of the most comprehensive land use planning reviews in the country. During this process, approximately one hundred individual voices and twenty-nine separate organizations have had input into the final plan and design. The Mirror Theater has been determined to be consistent with the Town and Regional Plans.
17. What is the seating capacity?
(From our FAQ’s) The Mirror Theater features flexible seating, due to our multiple seating configurations: three-quarter thrust, theater-in-the-round, circus-style, and proscenium. The largest of these configurations is the proscenium configuration, planned and approved to seat 277. The smallest of these configurations is 99. This creates an intended average seating of less than 199. The performance tent on the green, where GAAR has been performing for several years, seats a similar flexible number of audience members and has frequently had 160 - 200 attendees for popular events such as The Miracle Worker and The Sound of Music.
18. Who is building the Mirror Theater?
(From the FAQ’s) The land and building are owned by the Greensboro Performing Arts Center Trust, LTD (GPACT). GPACT is a not-for-profit trust founded by a generous local philanthropist who has sought to make a no-strings-attached gift to a theater organization, community and State he loves. The Mirror Theater will serve as the new home for the Greensboro Arts Alliance & Residency (GAAR). GAAR will be the Mirror Theater’s resident, not-for-profit, theater and performing arts organization. Many other community groups will also use the structure.
19. Does the Mirror Theater have any more steps in the permitting process with Act 250 and the State of Vermont? Do you have your final permits?
Yes, we have our final permits! All permits necessary to complete the building have been acquired at both the State and Local levels. The building is fully constructible. We plan to apply for minor amendments to our existing permit at the local level that will enhance both the building’s use and its aesthetic quality. First, we are seeking permission to construct a one-story storage/scenery shed, with a footprint of 51’ by 31’. Second, we wish to add a cupola-like element to the top of the roof. This cupola-like structure is similar in function to the cupolas currently adorning the new Greensboro Firehouse, and aims to further enhance the rural and aesthetic character of the building. With the addition of the cupola, the Mirror Theater will be 3’ lower than the Greensboro Firehouse. We have also proposed some minor changes to the parking and driveway configuration, which will enhance the overall aesthetics of the parcel, reduce the overall size and scope of parking and move the parking areas further away from our residential neighbors. Our revised plans for the parking area also include exterior LED lights on poles. The lights would be “night sky friendly” while protecting the safety of our guests visiting the theater.
20. If the project obtains approval for the revisions it seeks at the upcoming DRB hearing, will any of these revisions have an impact on the character of the area, traffic or municipal services?
No! As explained above, we have requested only minor revisions to the approved project. The DRB has already determined that the theater project will have no adverse impact on the character of the area, traffic or municipal services. We don’t anticipate that changing the configuration of the parking lot and adding an accessory shed and a cupola design element to the already approved project will have any impact on these criteria.