JEMS theater is nearing completion

JAYThe Jay Entertainment and Music Society (JEMS) is getting ready to raise the curtain on its greatest undertaking.

Work on the Amos & Julia Ward Theater and JEMS Community Space is 85-90 percent done, according to JEMS president Mark Peduzzi.

The project, which has cost more than a half million dollars in donated funds, is creating a 145-seat theater. The thrust-stage proscenium arch theater has been under construction for two years.

The upper floor of the old firehouse has been converted into usable space for community workshops and events. Peduzzi said that a quilting club, yoga groups and aerobics classes have expressed an interest. The handicap-accessible site will also be the location of the Town of Jay polling site for elections.

We hope it will become the center of village life, said Lee Kazanas, a member of JEMS.

The theater features movable seating, which can be rolled back so the building can accommodate a variety of other events. Kazanas was enthusiastic about possibilities for the building, adding that winter coffeehouses were being planned.

While fundraising for the building has been completed, funds are still needed for furnishings such as theater curtains, lights, and a sound system.

Peduzzi said the theater might be ready for November performances, but would definitely be home to this Decembers Christmas play. After interior work is completed, JEMS will need a certificate of occupancy before it can officially open the facility.

The building, located on Parkside Drive, was the former home of the Jay Fire Department. The space includes an office for JEMS. Peduzzi said that the volunteer-driven organization would require members to step up to help with operations.

Were reliant on volunteers, and were going to need more to run this, said Peduzzi.

JEMS is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that was formed in 1987, organizing free music and entertainment on the Village Green in Jay. JEMS will continue to have free concerts on the Village Green during the summer months.

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