The faint smell of fresh paint and new construction fills the air in the recently renovated theater in Kings Beach that has transformed into Fox Cultural Hall.
A large concessions counter is in front of modern patterned wallpaper and an open door next to the counter ushers people into the main room. A commanding stage with dark velvet green curtains and bright lights illuminate artists who entertain seated audiences of up to 260 people and 325 standing.
Fox Cultural Hall located at 8707 Lake Tahoe Blvd. near Fox Street is the physical space that is the new home to Arts For The Schools. Since 1984, the mission of Arts For The Schools has been to provide access to the arts. Chief executive officer Eve McEneaney says that Fox Cultural Hall officially opened on March 2 and before that, the building, formerly the Brockway Twin Theatre, was vacant for 10 years.
When Arts For The Schools took over the space in November 2021, the nonprofit got to work quietly renovating the building into a performance hall.
“This place was entirely taken down to the studs and rebuilt from scratch,” McEneaney says. It took one-and-a-half years to build what it is today. McEneaney explains that they first drew up architectural plans for the performance hall in 2018. The wall that split the room into two theaters was taken down, and they started bringing the space together, putting the curtains up, installing sound panels and wallpaper.
The idea to open a brick-and-mortar performance hall has been kicked around for a while. Arts For The Schools works on a three-year strategic plan, and the idea was first added into the 2013 version. Every three years since, the need for its own performing arts theater came up but was put on the backburner. Finally in 2018, the team took a hard look at what it would take to bring the idea to life.
“We’ve been a 40-year-old performing arts presenter without our own building,” McEneaney says. “It’s hard to bring in world-class artists when you don’t have a performance hall; before we’ve always had to rent spaces,” she adds.
Since building a performance hall from the ground up is time consuming and expensive, they decided to focus on finding an old building. They put feelers out to Arts For The Schools members and supporters asking them to keep an eye out for any available structures. A member who lives in Dollar Point was driving through Kings Beach and snapped a photo of the building that would become Fox Cultural Hall. Even though there were other parties interested in the space, McEneaney believes that the owner leased it to Arts For The Schools due to the longstanding stellar reputation the 510c3 has in the community.
Fox Cultural Hall is now a permanent home for its seven programs, including visual and performing arts; public art and mural projects; arTRAIN professional training courses, community classes and teen programs.
Fox Cultural Hall will host the annual Mexican Heritage Festival on Sept. 16 and monthly senior dances in its new space.
“A lot of people know us as bringing arts to the schools, but we’ve always had this performing arts piece,” McEneaney explains. As members of California Presenters, the Fox Cultural Hall averages around eight shows a year. McEneaney’s passion for the new performance hall shines through as she talks about how exciting it is to be able to finally meet the specs to host midsize performances that rival any other black box theater in the region.
McEneaney says none of it would have been possible without key donors and supporters who pitched in time, materials and labor to get Fox Cultural Hall off the ground. For instance, Tahoe Truckee Lumber Company donated all the wood, Tahoe Mountain Resorts Foundation donated money to purchase the seats, Mills Tile helped with the staircase, Sierra Mountain Pipe & Supply donated piping and McEneaney Construction built everything free of charge. Kids in the community painted and put cabinets together.
“We did this by calling people in the community and asking if they could help, and every single time they said yes. That was instrumental in getting this place open,” she says.
“This is a dream for us, finally hosting world-class performances in North Lake Tahoe. Lots of people have been walking in with new ideas and we’re super excited for this fall in fulfilling our goal of increasing arts to the community,” McEneaney adds. | foxchall.org
Fox Cultural Hall events
*Held at the Hall unless noted
- Sept. 16 | Mexican Heritage Festival, Truckee River Regional Park
- Sept. 22 | The Reminders
- 1st Thursdays | Senior Dance
- Fridays | Music Together
- Mondays | Canta y Baila Conmigo
- Every other Tuesday | LGBTQ+ Art Club