Volunteers and RI Foundation Make New Outdoor Performance Space a Reality

Bay Spring Community Center BSCC Outdoor Stage Arts Music Culture Barrington RI
The new BSCC Performance Cottage and Stage

For years, outdoor events at the BSCC were hampered by a lack of a convenient, dedicated performance space. The old swing set and a climbing frame filled the space immediately behind the Center. Performers stood on bare ground or rickety old docks donated by community members. Seating relied on tables and chairs that were hauled outside while the inside Bay performance itself was unavailable for performances due to the amount of equipment stored there.

In short, the Community Center was ill equipped to host community events outdoors, especially during the hot summer months.

Roughly 10 months ago, the Friends of the BSCC (FBSCC) Board of Directors, in cooperation with BSCC volunteers and the Town of Barrington, set out to change that.

The effort kicked off in February 2017 when board members Chris Watson and Denise Conway, together with volunteer Jennifer Watson, wrote and submitted a proposal to the Rhode Island Foundation for one of its Community Grants.

The proposal called for $5,900 of RI Foundation funds together with contributions from the FBSCC to create an outdoor performance space with:

  • a permanent stage
  • a 16×8 shed for storage and to serve as a backdrop for performances, and
  • landscaping improvements

Our proposal was one of almost 130 application submitted and, in early July, we learned that our proposal was one of 30 accepted.

At the same time, the Town relocated the climbing frame to a position closer to one of the slides in time for summer fun, and dismantled the old, homemade swing set (don’t worry…we hope to get a replacement next year when the Latham Park redesign happens!).

Several new handicapped accessible picnic tables were delivered to the site courtesy of the Departments of Recreation and Public Works. The result was a new, cleared event space immediately behind the Center with a more focused playground area.

Then we got down to building a versatile new space.

Stage 1 of the new construction was the 16 x 16 foot stage. The effort was led by student liaison to the FBSCC Board and Eagle Scout candidate Toby Rein under the guidance of mentor Roni Portugali. Over the course of several weekends, concrete footings were poured and the stage built by Toby and the scouts of Troop 6 Barrington. Construction was completed just in time for the 2017 Harvest Fest, during which Django at Bay Spring and Mark Whittaker & Friends brought hours of live music to Festival attendees.

Several weeks later, Stage 2 kicked off with construction of the new “Performance Cottage”. Over the course of two weekends, the new cedar boathouse-style shed was built by a squad of BSCC volunteers. The effort wrapped up the weekend before Thanksgiving.

While the landscaping effort (and the shed’s window boxes) are still to come in the spring, the BSCC now has a versatile and beautiful new outdoor performance space for the entire community to use.

To see how it all came together, take a look at the photos below, and stay tuned for details about spring and summer events at the Performance Cottage in 2018.

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