Red Hook Schools Need an Auditorium

You can volunteer to help get an auditorium for Red Hook Schools. Red Hook is the only school district in the Hudson Valley and one of only a few in New York State without an auditorium to accommodate theatrical productions, band and chorus concerts, lectures, assemblies and graduations.  Currently, cafeterias and gymnasiums with inadequate seating are utilized as makeshift spaces for large group events. That means that gym classes and sports teams needing to train have 20% less access to the gym than teams they compete against.  Meanwhile, our band, chorus and theater groups are required to host their artistic performances in the school gymnasiums or outside venues with many rehearsals taking place in corridors, classrooms and elsewhere.


The district has worked hard to secure millions of dollars in NY State aid and they have kept the budget low.

The cost of the project is low: as low as $27 a year with STAR or $32 without STAR.

The Red Hook Education Foundation has raised additional funds and worked closely with local public officials to offset costs. 


In addition to providing a space that matches the high caliber of local performances and activities, there are many additional benefits that an auditorium will offer the students and citizens of Red Hook:

  • Improve educational programming (band/chorus/dance/digital media/technology offerings)
  • Add 20% increase in access to current gymnasium
  • Enhance extracurricular opportunities (science/social studies/math/debate groups)
  • Provide additional exhibition spaces (showcase student and community artists)
  • Encourage greater attendance at civic activities (political debates/citizenship classes)
  • Offer meeting space to community groups (volunteer organizations/job fairs)

The Red Hook Education Foundation has been exploring a variety of private and public funding options for this venture from individual donors, corporate sponsors, foundation grants, as well as state and federal grants.  The new vision is to design an auditorium that is truly multi-purpose, with flexible space options to accommodate a broad base of school and community needs. The flexible configuration allows for both large-scale seated performances, small group meeting areas, as well as additional classroom and workshop spaces.  The auditorium would be connected to the front of the high school with an open flow for students during school hours that could then be closed off with a separate entrance for public events in the evening.  Locating the Auditorium at the high school has many advantages – including easy access for out of town guests and adequate parking – a big cost saving for a project of this scale.

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“For far too long the Red Hook community has been without an auditorium. It’s a place where folks could gather for performances, community meetings and large student events. It is also an important part of education.” Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D-Kingston) says.

“I get chills thinking about the thousands of students who will be positively impacted by the opportunity showcase their talents in a real performance space and not a gymnasium. This grant, coupled with a modest bond referendum, will make it possible to immediately improve the existing programs and begin to imagine other Twenty-First Century programmatic possibilities. I also believe that a large assembly space of this nature can be a boost to our local economy as we think about hosting more regional events,” stated Superintendent Paul Finch of the Red Hook School District.

Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro said, “As a longtime supporter of the arts and proud Red Hook Central School District alumnus, I am grateful to Assemblyman Kevin Cahill for securing $3.5 million in state funding for a school district auditorium. This will be a tremendous community asset opening so many new opportunities for students and the community to perform, create and celebrate. Participating in theatre productions as a student and having long advocated for an auditorium for our students, Assemblyman Cahill’s support will help expand opportunities and really enhance an already great school district!”

“The Board of the Red Hook Education Foundation has been researching the feasibility and advocating for funding for an auditorium over the last few years. We are so pleased that Assemblymember Cahill understands the needs of our community. His leadership and commitment to equitable access to quality education is inspiring. Red Hook students will benefit in untold ways, from enhanced performing arts programs to expanded access to the gym, public speaking events, school assemblies, graduation ceremonies, community events and many other possibilities,” said Eleanor Davis, Red Hook Education Foundation President.

“It is truly impressive that despite not having a dedicated performance or community gathering space, the students, educators and staff at Red Hook CSD have and continue to coordinate exceptional vocal, choral and theatrical performances. I know all will join with me in appreciation of the regular efforts to convert gymnasium, cafeteria and lawn space into makeshift performance venues, as well as efforts to secure space at nearby Bard College; however, a more permanent and appropriate venue is sorely needed, and with this latest announcement, much closer to becoming a reality. Thanks to the hard work and support of Assemblyman Cahill, Red Hook CSD administrators, the Red Hook Education Foundation and community members, the concept of a multi-purpose community auditorium has taken a giant leap forward,” said Vincent Rossetti, Red Hook CSD Alumnus, Class of 2010.

Vera Perry, a Red Hook High School alumna who was heavily involved in theater agreed with these sentiments. “Like many other students from Red Hook, I developed a strong foundation for my subsequent theatrical activities through my experiences in high school. It is exciting to know that future students will have the benefit of a well-equipped theater where they can learn about all elements of the stage, both performing and working behind the scenes, in a space that will display their best work to the audience.”

For more information about the auditorium click here.