The New England Center for the Performing Arts is comprised of a performing arts school, a production company, an elite touring ensemble and a new 60,000 square foot performing arts center. The new facility is being developed on a 13-acre campus conveniently located 1 mile from Route 495 in Franklin, Massachusetts.We are very proud that this powerful combination of extracurricular performing arts education and professional performing opportunities is truly unique!
The School is the Franklin School for the Performing Arts (FSPA). Established in 1985, FSPA has established itself as the premiere arts institution in the region. It fosters a deep commitment to arts education, an exceptional curriculum, an outstanding faculty with impressive credentials, and an unwavering dedication to meet the needs of every student.
The Company, the Franklin Performing Arts Company (FPAC) was created in 1991. Since then, it has presented hundreds of community performances in all disciplines of the arts and has attracted performers and audiences from across the region.
Our touring ensemble, Electric Youth, is a professional group of dynamic young performers presenting the Best of Broadway and American pop music. They perform both domestically and abroad, and have released four CDs including Resounding - The best of Electric Youth in preparation for their 2008 European tour.
The Center, the fourth component of the New England Center for the Performing Arts, is being developed with the support of our facilities capital campaign. The need for a performing arts venue in the suburbs and the increased demand for arts education programming have inspired this exciting cultural facilities initiative.
In the beginning
The history of the New England Center for the Performing Arts began with a single person, a passion and a dream. In 1985, Raye Lynn Mercer, a lifelong resident of Franklin, Massachusetts was a piano instructor with thirty-five students who took lessons in the living room of her Franklin home.
Raye Lynn enjoyed teaching, treasuring the interaction and influence she had on her students, but was compelled to involve them in more than piano lessons. Raye Lynn wanted a place where students could explore and be inspired by other disciplines of the performing arts such as acting, voice, dance, instrumental ensembles, musical theater; a place where performances would occur on a regular basis; a place where students could come together, discover, develop and share a love for the performing arts.
Raye Lynn’s mission to create such a place was idyllic but she was committed and determined. Shortly thereafter she spotted a “for lease” sign on the historic Cataldo Block in downtown Franklin. Combining an ambitious conversation with a local bank, the carpentry skills and painting prowess of family and friends, and a giant crane to hoist her beloved grand piano onto the 2nd floor level, Raye Lynn’s vision was gradually transformed into the Franklin School for the Performing Arts, complete with two dance studios, a drama studio, six music classrooms, administrative offices, a small retail shop and a recital hall. From the creaky dark wooden staircase, to the soaring ceilings of the recital parlor, 38 Main Street had the charm and lure of a quintessential performing arts school.
In less than a year from the opening of the Franklin School for the Performing Arts, almost immediately referred to as FSPA, 300 students would trek the stairway six days a week for music, dance and drama classes. The hustle and bustle of boys and girls of all ages gave the old building a miraculous energy, but more than the excellent classes, teachers, programs, and performances, FSPA served a much greater purpose….it became a safe place for kids to grow up.
Consistency, discipline, structure, humor, companionship, friendship, warmth, and laughter are just a few of the ideals available to each and every student that walks through its door….by-products of the underlying purpose of FSPA’s multidisciplinary arts education. Awed by the effect that FSPA had on their children, parents volunteered to help and support with boundless enthusiasm, multiplying the fervor to embrace a new extraordinary FSPA family. These attributes formed a culture at FSPA that allows it to stand alone among extracurricular environments for children and families today.
From “day one”, The School has attracted faculty and staff with outstanding credentials and a passion for arts education. The School continues to run year after year by an impressively consistent and cohesive staff and administration. The FSPA professional family has grown with little attrition to include scores of artists and teachers who remain loyal and enthusiastic supporters of the school’s mission and vision for the future.
More than twenty three years have passed, hundreds of main stage performances have been produced by the school and its resident, Franklin Performing Arts Company (FPAC), and tens of thousands of students have graduated. Parents continue to volunteer and support this unique oasis for the performing arts, which has well surpassed Raye Lynn’s original vision and dream.
The success of the Franklin School for the Performing Arts and the Franklin Performing Arts Company has not been sustained without its obstacles and challenges, most significantly the space limitations at the school and the lack of a “performance” venue where the hard work, discipline, technique and accomplishments of the students can be adequately showcased. Although the FSPA and FPAC performances are well attended, they have always had to be scheduled around the availability and restrictions of public school auditoriums.
The New England Center for the Performing Arts was founded in 2003 to bring to fruition Raye Lynn’s vision to develop a regional performing arts center in Franklin. The organization has grown to support this ambitious endeavor with the leadership and guidance of a Board of Directors and Advisory Board made up of business leaders and arts volunteers. The capital campaign is successfully raising the funds necessary to design, construct and maintain this remarkable new performing arts education and presentation complex on Route 140 in Franklin.
The new home of FSPA will make possible expanded curricula, many additional programs, community outreach initiatives and a new haven for arts and culture in the suburbs. In the meantime, FSPA and FPAC will continue to provide superlative instruction and opportunities at its current 38 Main Street home.