in Delray Beach, stands with ‘Field of Blue’ at the square. The sculpture, unveiled in 1996,
is of a boy holding a U.S. flag and honors people in uniform.
Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star
By Lucy Lazarony
It’s been a year since Rob Steele took over as president and chief executive officer of Old School Square. He came from the 2,100-seat Williamsport Community Arts Center in Pennsylvania, where he was executive director for 10 years.
His goal for the Delray Beach landmark and arts center was to transform it into a multidimensional arts and entertainment park.
So how’s that working out, and what’s new this year? And what’s this we hear about moving the Christmas tree off campus? Here’s what Steele had to say during a Q&A with The Coastal Star.
Q. What was your vision a year ago for Old School Square and what is it now? Has it changed?
A. My vision a year ago was to evolve Old School Square into a multidimensional arts and entertainment park, and the vision has come into a clearer focus with each passing day. The first phase of landmark renovations are underway. Improvements to the landscape, buildings, lighting, and functionality of this historic campus will be the talk of the town. Rebranding the campus from the Delray Beach Center for the Arts to Old School Square has been embraced by everyone, and we believe the change will go a long way in helping our market to understand the multidisciplinary nature of our organization.
Q. What new events can we expect in the 2016-17 performance season?
A. In the 2016-2017 season, I would be remiss if I did not share my insider knowledge and draw your attention to a few sleeper shows: One Funny Mother, VoicePlay, Kobie Boykins, The Doo Wop Project, Shades of Bublé, the State Ballet Theatre of Russia and the Rhythmic Circus.
Q. Are there changes/renovations to the Cornell Museum being planned?
A. The Cornell Art Museum is going through what can only be described as a comprehensive metamorphosis. When the transformation is complete … I believe the Cornell Art Museum will be one of the most significant attractions in Delray Beach. By year end, the museum will have a new roof and fresh coat of paint. By the end of July 2017, the interior of the museum will have been completely transformed.
In this landmark renovation of the Cornell Art Museum, it is our expressed intention to carry forward the intrinsic charms of a 1913 elementary schoolhouse into a unique and inviting space to enjoy visual art. We hope to leverage the good bones of this historic building … to allow the natural light from the enormous windows to shine in concert with the echoes of children’s dreams … to create an unforgettable museum experience for our guests.
We are committed to assuring that the space is designed and constructed to be practical and flexible to meet the present and future needs of the museum.
Q. What can we expect in the upcoming season in the field house venue and outdoor pavilion?
A. The Old School Square 2016-2017 season includes a number of events that will be held in the field house venue and the outdoor pavilion stage. Acoustics in the field house have been dramatically improved, and this unique space will play host to a wide variety of acts throughout the season. Seating configurations will change to match the entertainment and the venue is absolutely charming.
The pavilion stage affords us the opportunity to feature some larger scale acts for much larger audiences. We are very keen on making sure that people who have traditionally only visited one corner of Old School Square have the opportunity to discover everything we have to offer.
Q. Is the city’s 100-foot Christmas tree destined to be moved from its previous location this year?
A. We are very keen on moving the Christmas tree to the core area of the Old School Square Park by December 2017. The construction/erection process of building the Christmas tree lasts at least two months and the site is, well, unsightly during much of the construction. The precise location has not yet been determined. It will be located in the green area, which is directly south of the parking garage. This is the space where the green market is on Saturdays.
Q. What have you enjoyed most in your first year as president and chief executive officer at Old School Square?
A. I am truly very blessed to work with such a talented and committed staff and board of directors. They have embraced change and redoubled their already dizzying efforts to advance the mission of Old School Square.