The Frederick Arts Council’s Sky Stage will be getting some new modifications over the next several months.
Named a recipient of the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development’s State Revitalization Program in January, FAC received $200,000 and will use the money to add a partially retractable roof and permanent bathrooms to the outdoor amphitheater.
Louise Kennelly, FAC executive director, notes the public arts installation is a seasonal venue operating about six months a year during warm temperatures. However, the threat of rain causes them to have to provide an additional potential rain location or an alternate date which can be difficult. “Folks don’t necessarily mind another location but they want to play at Sky Stage,” she says. “That is what their first choice is if they have booked with us.”
The new roof, which will allow certain sections to be removed, enables the space to be used more often including during a rainstorm. “We needed it to be retractable because of the charm and magic of seeing the sky, (which) is part of the experience there,” she says. “We didn’t want to take that away.” Kennelly expects the roof to be completed by the fall.
The permanent bathrooms will take the place of portable toilets in a nearby alley. “(The design) complements the sculpture and the look and feel of the space,” Kennelly says. The bathrooms are expected to be finished by April.
Sky Stage offers various programming for all ages, including swing dance lessons, yoga, an interactive drum circle, concerts and plays. Some of the children show programming in the past has included a reading series by the Frederick County Public Libraries and shows by the Frederick County Public Schools Earth Science and Space Lab.
The space dates back to the pre-Revolutionary War era. Gutted by a 2010 fire and left boarded up for years, the public arts installation was designed by artist Heather Theresa Clark and opened in 2016. The structure features drought-resistant plants that wind throughout the facility. A cistern collects rainwater from a nearby roof to irrigate them. The design has won numerous awards over the years, including a sustainability award in 2021 from Frederick County’s sustainability commission.
“People look at this project as an exemplary in the public art space,” Kennelly says. “It is a sculpture that you sit inside and see performances. It is not just a venue. It is a piece of public art.”
Sky Stage is at 59 S. Carroll St. in Frederick.