Rep. O’Dea: $2 Million State Grant for New Canaan!

Posted on December 15, 2023


NEW CANAAN – Deputy House Minority Leader Tom O’Dea on Friday led applause from state lawmakers, local officials, and community leaders over a $2,000,000 allocation by the State Bond Commission for facility improvements at the New Canaan Playhouse theater.

“I am appreciative of this decision from the Governor, his team, and commission members to recognize the need and demand to invest in this project, and for the work of local leaders and community voices who have continued to pursue their vision and complete renovations to this community resource.” said Rep. O’Dea, who represents the 125th District serving residents of New Canaan, Darien, and Stamford.

“This has been a long time coming – I was a vocal proponent when then First Selectman Dick Bond led the Town effort to purchase the Playhouse theater decades ago.  It is wonderful how supportive the state is of this public-private partnership committed to reviving this downtown asset and providing families and visitors with access to a culturally enriching, state-of-the-art facility,” O’Dea continued. “The unified effort to deliver on that promise is something that makes us all proud.”

The money, approved at the December 15th Commission meeting, will complete renovation and restoration of the iconic 100-year-old marquee Playhouse in the heart of downtown New Canaan, featuring a custom build-out for the new community-based movie theater experience.

The Playhouse theater has suffered from neglect by previous tenants before being leased by Cinema Lab in 2022, who has invested over $1,500,000 to the renovations. Unfortunately, the project cost far exceeded expectations.

The project is an example of multi-sourced funding to realize a vision. The project’s cost breakdown is as follows: Town of New Canaan $3,840,895; Private funds – Cinema Lab LLC $1,550,000; Federal ARPA $600,000 – and now, $2,000,000 in grant-in-aid funding from the State of Connecticut.

Renovations, Reopening Planned For New Canaan Playhouse | New Canaan, CT Patch

The historic New Canaan Playhouse theater located on South Ave.

O’Dea credited New Canaan’s strong team of local leaders and officials for their constant advocacy to showcase the value of this investment in historic downtown New Canaan.

Upon hearing the news of the state support, New Canaan First Selectman Dionna Carlson said, “On behalf of the entire town I thank Gov. Lamont, the State Bond Commission and our state legislative delegation – Rep. O’Dea and Sen. Fazio who have been working to gain this funding since April, along with Rep. Dathan, Rep. Denning and Sen. Maher who all worked to support the funding request right up to the decision 10 days ago. This funding is greatly appreciated as we work to keep property taxes down and partner with Cinema Lab to create a state-of-the-art, community-based movie-going experience in the heart of our downtown within walking distance of our train station.”

O’Dea additionally credited the consolidated support of New Canaan’s entire bipartisan state legislative delegation, Sens. Ryan Fazio and Ceci Maher, and Reps. Lucy Dathan and Keith Denning.

“The approval of the $2 million comes almost three years to the day of the theatre’s closure, symbolizing a new chapter of hope and opportunity for the community,” Sen. Ryan Fazio said. “Not only will the investment breathe life back into a century-old building, but it will simultaneously support local businesses, create job opportunities, support the arts, and attract visitors to New Canaan.”

Fazio continued, “I would like to thank the Governor and the Bond Commission for seeing the value in the much-needed renovations to The Playhouse. I appreciate the collaboration and support from my local legislative colleagues on both sides of the aisle since submitting the original request in the spring.”

“I am thrilled to have worked with our New Canaan legislative delegation to secure this $2 million grant- in-aid for renovations and improvements to the Playhouse Theater,” said Rep. Lucy Dathan.  The Playhouse’s dedication and commitment to enriching the cultural landscape through their wonderful movie screenings and events are a testament to their artistic excellence and invaluable contribution to our community, bringing generations together in New Canaan.”

“The $2 million investment in this century-old landmark in our community is a valuable part of getting this important project over the finish line,” said Sen. Ceci Maher. “The funding will support needed renovations that will bring the theater back into operations as a centerpiece of the community for years to come. I’m grateful to Governor Lamont and the Bond Commission for their support.”

“The New Canaan Playhouse has been an artistic gem for 100 years,” said Rep. Keith Denning.  “It’s a historic building that needs a facelift, and this vital funding will bring the Playhouse back to its full potential. The revival of this facility will also support the local economy. I am grateful for Governor Ned Lamont and the State Bond Commission for green lighting this investment into our community. Thank you to my colleagues for their bipartisan support.”


Governor Ned Lamont was in New Canaan in late November along with New Canaan’s entire state legislative delegation, who are photographed here in front of The Playhouse movie theater. Forefront, Rep. Tom O’Dea. Back, from left: Jonathan Dach, Chief of Staff to Gov. Lamont, New Canaan First Selectman Dionna Carlson, Rep. Keith Denning, and Sen. Ryan Fazio. Center, New Canaan Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Laura Budd. Front, Rep. Lucy Dathan, Sen. Ceci Maher and Gov. Lamont.