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updated: 8/20/2011 9:59 PM

Batavia Fine Arts Centre kicks off in style

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  • Vincent Gatto of Batavia, left, along with Stephanie Knappe, middle, and her husband, Ed Knappe, right, fill their glasses at the refreshment fountain, during the Batavia Fine Arts Centre's Red Carpet Gala opening on Saturday. The arts center is the school's first real auditorium, and will also serve as a community center for the city of Batavia.

       Vincent Gatto of Batavia, left, along with Stephanie Knappe, middle, and her husband, Ed Knappe, right, fill their glasses at the refreshment fountain, during the Batavia Fine Arts Centre's Red Carpet Gala opening on Saturday. The arts center is the school's first real auditorium, and will also serve as a community center for the city of Batavia.
    Kristin Ackmann | Staff Photographer

  • Rolla and Rosalind Swanson check in during the Batavia Fine Arts Centre's Red Carpet Gala opening on Saturday. The couple live a couple blocks from Batavia High School. The arts center is the school's first real auditorium, and will also serve as a community center for the city of Batavia.

       Rolla and Rosalind Swanson check in during the Batavia Fine Arts Centre's Red Carpet Gala opening on Saturday. The couple live a couple blocks from Batavia High School. The arts center is the school's first real auditorium, and will also serve as a community center for the city of Batavia.
    Kristin Ackmann | Staff Photographer

  • Allison Niemela of St. Charles, interviewed Maggie McHenry of Batavia, for Batavia Access Television during the Batavia Fine Arts Centre's Red Carpet Gala opening on Saturday. The arts center is the school's first real auditorium, and will also serve as a community center for the city of Batavia.

       Allison Niemela of St. Charles, interviewed Maggie McHenry of Batavia, for Batavia Access Television during the Batavia Fine Arts Centre's Red Carpet Gala opening on Saturday. The arts center is the school's first real auditorium, and will also serve as a community center for the city of Batavia.
    Kristin Ackmann | Staff Photographer

  • Allison Niemela of St. Charles interviewed visitors for Batavia Access Television during the Batavia Fine Arts Centre's Red Carpet Gala opening on Saturday. The arts center is the school's first real auditorium, and will also serve as a community center for the city of Batavia.

       Allison Niemela of St. Charles interviewed visitors for Batavia Access Television during the Batavia Fine Arts Centre's Red Carpet Gala opening on Saturday. The arts center is the school's first real auditorium, and will also serve as a community center for the city of Batavia.
    Kristin Ackmann | Staff Photographer

  • Several tours were given during the Batavia Fine Arts Centre's Red Carpet Gala opening on Saturday. The arts center is the school's first real auditorium, and will also serve as a community center for the city of Batavia.

       Several tours were given during the Batavia Fine Arts Centre's Red Carpet Gala opening on Saturday. The arts center is the school's first real auditorium, and will also serve as a community center for the city of Batavia.
    Kristin Ackmann | Staff Photographer

  • Gigi Shankland of Batavia, volunteered to help with the food and beverages during the Batavia Fine Arts Centre's Red Carpet Gala Opening on Saturday. Gigi has three children in the school district, and is a member of the Batavia Music Buffs, a parent-driven organization that helps raise money for the district's music programs. The arts center is the school's first real auditorium, and will also serve as a community center for the city of Batavia.

       Gigi Shankland of Batavia, volunteered to help with the food and beverages during the Batavia Fine Arts Centre's Red Carpet Gala Opening on Saturday. Gigi has three children in the school district, and is a member of the Batavia Music Buffs, a parent-driven organization that helps raise money for the district's music programs. The arts center is the school's first real auditorium, and will also serve as a community center for the city of Batavia.
    Kristin Ackmann | Staff Photographer

 
 

The couple, elegantly dressed in black, strolled down the red carpet.

From across the red velvet rope, a TV camera focused on them, and a perky interviewer asked the woman which designer's dress she was wearing.

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"J. Crew," the woman replied smiling.

"He's a wonderful designer," said the man, who was wearing an Armani tuxedo.

Batavia residents Scott and Michelle Descourouez were among hundreds who on Saturday evening attended the Red Carpet Gala opening of the Batavia Fine Arts Centre.

The TV crew was from Batavia Access Television, with board member Allison Niemela in the role of correspondent.

The event featured hors d'oeuvres and refreshments, tours of the visual and performing arts center, and dance, theater, music and improv performances well into the night.

The Batavia Fine Arts Centre is part of Batavia High School but will serve as a space not just for the school, center Director Dominic Cattero said.

"We are bringing all the arts together under one roof, and we want to be accessible not just to the district, but community groups as well," Cattero said.

Batavia School District 101 Board President Ron Link called the new center a "spectacular" addition to the community. "We are so blessed that the community supported us," he said, referring to $75 million from a 2007 referendum that was used to expand the high school and Rotolo Middle School and to improve elementary school buildings.

Retired drama and building trades teacher Page McCloud said that a few years ago he was among a team from Batavia High School who surveyed high school auditoriums for planning purposes.

"I made a spreadsheet, a sort of Christmas wish list, and this basically has it all," McCloud said. "A trap door, state-of-the-art lighting, comfortable seats, a real orchestra pit," he said. "There is something in here for every student that wants to do something in theater."

Theater student Emma Kegerris, a senior at Batavia High School, said having a new performance space is really exciting. "Going from the 'cafetorium' to this," Kegerris said about the high school cafeteria that doubled as auditorium, "is like culture shock."

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