By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer
The Clifton Center — housed in St. Frances of Rome Church’s old school building at 2117 Payne St. — will close its doors later this year, making way for a performing arts space for Holy Trinity School.
Jack Richards, principal of Holy Trinity School, said in a statement to school families April 24 that the St. Matthews school is in the “final stages of completing a 10-year lease agreement to take over operations” of the Clifton Center building. The school will start hosting performances and shows at the venue at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, the statement said.
The Clifton Center announced April 21 that it will close on Dec. 31, 2017. Cynthia Adelberg, who is serving as interim director, said in an interview April 25 she remains hopeful the Clifton Cultural Center Inc., will find ways to go on.
Father Bernard J. Breen, pastor of St. Frances of Rome Church, said in an interview April 25, “It’s a shame” the center is closing.
The center has faced financial challenges and changes in leadership in recent years, he said, noting that the parish has had to step in and help the center with upkeep of the building. The center’s 10-year lease with St. Frances expired last year, but it was extended through this July.
“They did a lot of good productions, but it wasn’t enough to keep things even as far as finances,” said Father Breen, noting that his parish is small and unable to afford building maintenance.
Adelberg said “any non-profit (organization) involved in the arts is always working very hard to get investments and donations from the community. It’s a balancing act.”
Adelberg, the center’s first executive director, said it has some “wonderful, eclectic events” scheduled and those will take place as planned throughout the remainder of the year. The center will celebrate the 25th Taste of Frankfort Avenue Aug. 13 as scheduled, she noted.
The former school building has been the home of the Clifton Center since 1995. At the time, Father John G. Eifler was pastor of St. Frances of Rome and sought a purpose for the empty building.
The Clifton Center, said Father Eifler in an interview April 25, was “devised and developed as an attempt at evangelization,” which includes “opening our minds and hearts to the needs of the community.”
The need for such a space was evident, too, he said noting for example that the Crescent Hill branch of the public library was closed at the time.
Father Breen said St. Frances of Rome will retain the building and Holy Trinity Parish will manage it, caring for both the interior and exterior.
Holy Trinity will “take over the building July 1, 2017, and work with the Clifton Center and their renters until Jan. 1, 2018,” he said.