The Quick Center in its 25th year has a spring in its step, with a new look, fresh programming and a new director

The Quick Center in its 25th year has a spring in its step, with a new look, fresh programming and a new director

It’s the feel of the tickets in your hands, the hum of the sounds in the lobby, the magic hush that falls when the lights dim. It’s where you disconnect to find yourself the most connected. Movement that shakes you, music that inspires you, colors that dazzle you. It’s history and legacy meets the modern and unexpected, where stories meet life, and life meets art. In the heart of your community, you’ll find the center of it all.

Welcome back to the Quick Center for the Arts.

ith a new director and a new direction, Fairfield’s Quick Center — this regional hub for all things creative is celebrating its 25th anniversary in style, kicking off with a gala Evening with Charlie Rose in September and boasting a rich 2015-16 season, including a stellar dance series and a celebration of national known Connecticut artists sure to please patrons of all ages.

The Quick Center’s 25-year history belies its rather humble beginnings. It was created in 1990, when benefactor Leslie Quick P’82, ’79, ’77 attended a production of Godspell in what is now the PepsiCo Theatre to cheer on his daughter, who was in the cast. He and former Quick Center Director Tom Zingarelli created a plan to build a larger venue, naming it after Quick’s wife, Regina.

Over the ensuing years the Quick Center has played host to a slew of memorable performances in both its 740-seat Kelley Theatre and the more intimate Wien Experimental Theatre, as well as ever-changing exhibitions in the Thomas J. Walsh Art Gallery. Ray Charles, John Malkovich and the Martha Graham Dance Company have all graced its stage and the popular Open VISIONS Forum series has welcomed such world-renowned leaders and tastemakers as Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Broadway legend Stephen Sondheim and Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel.

With a growing list of arts venues in the region, the Quick Center remains relevant through its unique blend of entertaining and intellectually stimulating programming that benefits from its University collaborations. In the coming year, it is poised to reach farther into the community, welcoming curious advocates of the arts to forge deeper bonds of involvement — whether it be attending a pre-concert discussion with an up-and-coming musician, enjoying a master class or becoming a Quick Center Member.

As the Quick Center puts the finishing touches on its 2015-16 season, Fairfield University Magazine sat down with new Executive Director Peter Van Heerden to see what he envisions for its next quarter-century.

Fairfield University Magazine (FUM): You taught performance studies and founded ERF 81, a cultural collective, in South Africa. You led the Westport Arts Center during a period of unprecedented growth and development. What drew you to the Quick Center six months ago?

Peter Van Heerden (PVH): My heart and passion has always been with the performing arts. The potential and opportunity to dig into a beautiful theater complex like the Quick Center, and bring rich and diverse programming to the community is a wonderful honor. The credentials of Fairfield University as a forward thinking University that inspires learning was also a great attraction. It is an exciting opportunity to manage and develop a performing-arts center with a deep history into the future.

FUM: The Quick Center will be celebrating its 25th birthday this season. What’s your vision for the next 25 years?
PVH: To ensure the Quick Center continues to bring robust, informative and challenging performance works to the community and roots itself as the preeminent performance venue in the Connecticut arts corridor.

FUM: Can you give us a sneak peek at the 2015-16 anniversary season?
PVH: The QCA will be hosting a very exciting gala celebration in honor of our 25 years of programming in the performing arts. On September 19 we will be kicking off with “An Evening with Charlie Rose.” We will be hosting a gala party with dinner, dancing

FUM: You’ve seen a lot of performances in your day, no doubt. If you could bring any artists to the Quick Center, what would your dream performance be?
PVH: I would love to bring William Kentridge (a South African artist best known for his animated films, drawings and operas) to our stage with one of his operas or performance works. Wim Van Dekeybus and his dance company Ultimate Vez. How about a Quick Center international theatre festival where we invite theatre makers from around the world to perform and discourse for a weeklong festival?

FUM: Why should ticketholders consider becoming Quick Center Members?
PVH: Members are the cornerstone of performing arts venues. It is through membership that ticket buyers turn into patrons and become a part of the fabric of the institution. Through patronage in the arts a powerful relationship is developed which ensures the sustainability of the organization and the freedom to generate a robust programming structure.