LITTLETON — It’s a short warrant article, but the new manager of the Littleton Opera House wants to make sure that it’s fully understood before the March 9 town meeting ballot vote.
And no, an affirmative vote would not abolish management at the town-owned historic building and cultural arts venue.
Article 41, seeking to discontinue the Opera House Management Commission, states, “To see if the Town will vote to eliminate the Opera House Management Commission.”
The wording can be a little confusing because the all-volunteer Opera House Commission does not have the word “management” in its official name on the town web site and in its meeting minutes.
Adding to that confusion was the Feb. 4 deliberative session, when the draft warrant was presented to voters.
Because of a character limit, the article omitted the word “commission,” leading some residents to possibly conclude that the intent of the article is to eliminate all opera house management.
“If the guy who’s managing the opera house can get confused by that, there is probably a window for other people to get confused as well,” Adam Reczek, the opera house manager, said Tuesday. “I had a little bit of a panic myself when I was at the deliberative session.”
The intent of the article, rather, is to keep Reczek, who took over as manager in December as a town employee, and have him assume all management duties.
Currently serving as opera house commissioners are George Mitchell, Dan Stearns, Don Merrill and Dick Alberini.
Several commissioners have written letters in support for the warrant article and eliminating the commission, among them Alberini, who became a commissioner nine years ago.
“It really wasn’t doing a heck of a lot then,” Alberini said of the commission. “It’s not needed. It’s like putting the post back downtown to tie your horse to.”
The commission hasn’t met for several years, ever since now-retired opera house manager, Sue Pilotte assumed the job, he said.
“When Sue came in, we realized the whole change to that place,” said Alberini. “We did a lot of moving and shaking on our own to get stuff going, but we’re just a bunch of volunteers. We moved and shook as far as we could … I remember having a meeting and Sue said this is happening and that is happening, and it finally hit that we have no function whatsoever, and that’s okay.”
Reczek said he and Pilotte didn’t know a warrant article was needed to discontinue the opera house commission until they contacted selectmen.
The article carries no tax impact and is recommended 3-0 by the Board of Selectmen.
The town meeting ballot vote is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 7 a.m. on March 9 at the town garage on West Main Street.
“It’s important to note that [the commission] was vital when it came about, but it no longer is,” said Reczek. “I appreciate the legacy of everyone who’s come before me as the caretaker of this place, and that includes the commission, that includes Sue. They’ve certainly helped pave the way for me and future managers of this building.”
Reczek currently works 29 hours a week and is due to shift to 34 hours in a month.
He outlined his near- and long-term vision and noted that the second half of his job title, after manager, is cultural arts coordinator.
“It’s more of a curator role of the arts,” said Reczek. “That’s where the second half of my function comes into play, creating programming. Obviously, we’re at a standstill with that right now, but we have some programs in the works that don’t require a packed house in order to feature local performance artists. The idea is to not have it at a standstill, but have it as an altered version of what we want it to be as a full-fledged music venue with big bands and packed houses every weekend, and, ideally, once this is behind us, that’s what it will become more like.”
The opera house has a new, refreshed sound system and will have new rigging and lighting in a couple of weeks.
“We’re taking this time to max out on setting ourselves up for success when COVID is finally behind us,” said Reczek. “We’re looking forward to having people back here.”