The Archdiocese of Louisville has confirmed that Holy Trinity will take over the facilities occupied by the Clifton Center to create a “theater and arts center” to be used by the St. Matthews parish, as well as other local schools.
As previously reported by Insider Louisville, the Clifton Center will vacate the historic theater and 40,000-square-foot former school building at 2117 Payne St. on Dec. 31, 2017.
And while leadership of the nonprofit Clifton Center say it will be difficult to find another location that replicates its mission — particularly its “sophisticated” theater presentations — Metro Councilman Bill Hollander is working to find a new home for tenants of the school building, which houses a variety of visual art, music and dance studios.
“Holy Trinity Church is in the early stages of final plans for the building,” Cecelia Price, chief communications officer for the Archdiocese of Louisville, told IL. “The parish plans to create a theater and arts center that can be used by Holy Trinity School as well other schools.”
Though the Archdiocese of Louisville owns the property, St. Frances of Rome Parish serves as the landlord because the theater and school building are located on that church’s property. IL reached out to St. Frances but did not hear back prior to publication.
When IL reached out to leaders at Holy Trinity to gather more details about plans for the site, Price responded on their behalf; in response to a question about whether the parish might be willing to share the space with the community, Price said, “Holy Trinity’s lease does not begin until July 1 and so it is not yet appropriate for the parish to enter discussions with other entities about the possible use of the building.”
However, she also said that “Catholic parishes are by their nature community-oriented, so community outreach will occur.”
IL first reported news of the Clifton Center’s closure after receiving word from Clifton Community Council Vice President Mike O’Leary, who sent an email to several civic leaders and residents on Saturday in an effort to spark efforts to negotiate with the archdiocese and potentially strike a compromise to share the space.
In that same email, O’Leary wrote, “The train-of-thought is to have Holy Trinity use Eifler Theater and [a] special needs school use the classrooms of the building.”
When asked about plans for the school building, Price said, “Educational activities and programs also are being explored, but final decisions have not been made in this area.”
Councilman Bill Hollander (D-9) told IL he has not had a conversation with Holy Trinity but he has talked to the Clifton Center and is actively working to find the center’s tenants “potential other venues in the district.”
“I want to do all I can to help,” he said.
Hollander said he had no information about the rumored return of a school for special needs students. According to the Clifton Center’s website, the building served as a school for special needs students for several years in the 1980s.
The councilman also confirmed social media posts indicating that at least some tenants were given notice of the Dec. 31 move-out date several weeks ago.
Current residents at the Clifton Center include Shine Studio, Louisville Folk School, Crescent Moon Studio and Pride of Kentucky Chorus.
Upon learning of the Clifton Center’s closure, patrons of the arts and culture venue took to social media to relay their disappointment.
Since it was founded 23 years ago, the Clifton Center has become a popular cultural hub, with the 500-seat Eifler Theatre hosting numerous concerts and the school building serving as a home to various arts groups.
Clifton Center Board of Directors Chairman Don Burch told IL on Saturday, “We’re deeply disappointed that this exceptional venue is coming to an end.”
This story may be updated.