by Jayla Stack ’21
On January 10, 2020, the Thomas S. Perakos Arts and Community Center, also known as TPACC or the ACC, opened to Gunnery students and faculty, a few days after returning from Winter Break.
TPACC is officially named the Thomas S. Perakos Arts and Community Center. The namesake of the building, Thomas S. Perakos is a Gunnery Alum and Broadway producer. The Band’s Visit, produced by Perakos, won the Tony Awards for Best Musical as well as Best Revival of a Musical.
With the construction of TPACC, the Gunnery’s arts programs will have a space to expand and thrive. Additionally, The Gunnery hopes that TPACC will serve as a commonly-used community space. Gunnery’s Visual Arts Faculty worked on the construction of TPACC to make the space ideal. Mr. Richards states, “I am so excited to be working in a new building where we were able to give the architects ideas for what we wanted our new space to be like.”
TPACC features brand new spaces and studios for the visual arts. Visual Arts teacher, Mr. Turner says, “we now have an amazing facility. We have a studio where we can set up lights and backdrops for portraiture and still life photography, we have an enormous green screen for video. We have equipment that enables us to trigger the shutter of a camera with sound, infrared or laser light. We can do photomicrography (extreme close-up photography) or capture bugs in flight and water drops colliding. Finally, there is the new darkroom. This is a large space that is really comfortable to work in and will afford me the space to incorporate nineteenth-century printing process into the curriculum. With the TPACC open we are only limited by our imaginations. I am officially putting out the call to anyone interested in photography and filmmaking to come and get involved.”
On the first day back to school, January 6th, Gunnery students attended the first official school meeting in TPACC. Later in the week, each grade toured the new facilities. Director of the Arts, Mr. Castonguay says, “Almost everything in the TPACC is new! Our previous facilities, although equipped with rooms to house our Visual and Performing Arts, could not even compare to what the TPACC offers. Beautiful and large educational classrooms and community facilities all surrounding a state-of-the-art 417-seat auditorium.”
On Friday, January 10, the ACC officially opened with a gala. Students dressed up to watch Mr. Becker formally open the building, thanking everyone who was included in making it possible, including Thomas S. Perakos, the Tisch family, Mr. Colton, the Board of Trustees, the Gunnery’s Arts faculty, construction manager Mr. Williams and many more.
Then, the Gunnery community was immediately blown away by musical performances from bands Mattson and Nevrlands. The show opened up with Mattson, a “hybrid pop country” band from central Connecticut.
Mattson was followed by Nevrlands, an eccentric alternative rock band from Brooklyn, New York. Nevrlands put on a lively show, performing their most popular songs “Waking Up” and “Rescue Me” for the Gunnery community. In between songs, the band chose to speak to the Gunnery community about their friendship (and lead singer Okan Kazdal’s profound sweatiness during the show). Finally, Nevrlands’ show ended with the ACC’s first mosh pit at the end of the Tisch Auditorium stage.
After the performances, activities were held throughout the ACC for students, faculty, and visitors to enjoy. The art-themed activities kept the ACC full all night and ranged from karaoke to face painting. Gunnery faculty and students also viewed their collaborative art piece formed by Ms. Condino.
Perhaps Mr. Richards said it best: “I think the new ACC will attract more attention and in so doing will raise the level of the arts at The Gunnery. I hope that it makes students want to try taking more art classes and makes everyone recognize how the arts enhance our lives. I have often wondered how dull and boring the world would be without the arts.”
“Try to imagine a world without paintings, drawings, photography, music, and theater. For artists, it is hard to imagine not being able to create or see your ideas come to fruition. I don’t like to look at the negative but sometimes it helps us to see the positives. So I would like to encourage all of our students to take a leap of faith and try something that they never thought they would do artistically. Have the courage to put yourself out there and feel the mental and physical benefits of being creative. You might surprise yourself and you might find something that will enhance your life.”
All photos are courtesy of Mr. Dutton from Smugmug