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Hard hats, shovels and sand marked the groundbreaking ceremony at the Screen Actors Guild Foundation’s Actors Center on Tuesday on 54th Street in the heart of New York City’s theater district.
Situated directly across the street from the Roundabout Theater Company/Studio 54, the 4,000-square-foot, 25-feet-high raw space is slated to open in February 2016. The facility will house a state-of-the-art screening room with cinema-style seating, green room and lobby and will also be home to workshops, seminars and free professional programs for New York union performers.
“This project actually started because we were serving actors in Los Angeles and didn’t have facilities here in New York. One thing that we have in Los Angeles that we don’t have in New York is a screening room,” Cyd Wilson, SAG Foundation executive director, told The Hollywood Reporter. “It took us a number of years to find this space. This is an ideal space because this is where the actors are. This space is built for the actors. During the year, we plan to have over 300 workshops and screenings of current films and television programs and there is a film festival that we do. This is going to be a resource for actors.”
OrangeIs The New Black actor Alysia Reiner, The Wedding’s David Allan Basche, Fatima Ptacek (voice of Dora the Explorer) and SAG Foundation board members David White, John McGuire, Rebecca Damon and Maureen Donnelly were also in attendance as well as Jonathan Denham, co-president of Denham Wolf Real Estate Services Inc., who is supervising the design and construction of the space.
“This project is significant for us because we are putting our roots down in a firmer way, said David White, SAG-AFTRA national executive director. “The SAG Foundation is expanding its presence in New York and having an Actors Center in New York. A place where people can gather is meaningful for members to not just be with each other but to hear from successful members and peers who will tell them how they got to where they got. It will make New York seem like more of a home. We have 25 percent of our membership here in New York so we felt it was a time for us physically to have more of a presence here.”
The multifunctional facility is the second and final phase of the SAG Foundation’s New York Actors Center. That space, located at 1900 Broadway, opened in May 2014 and features a computer lab, voice-over lab and recording facility that includes a main recording booth with an attached classroom and solo booth.
“The business is changing right now and we are changing with it,” said Basche. “There is such a crossover with theater, film and television now, and of course you throw in streaming with places like Netflix, so once you bring all of those things together you get New York theater actors that have more opportunities than ever so that might be one of the reasons why SAG’s presence is growing so much here.”
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