LACONIA — The city could become home to the Lakes Region Institute for the Arts if the initiative of a pair of musicians, Ryan Ordway and Franz Haase of the Recording Co-Op in Gilford, comes to fruition.
When Ordway and Haase opened their recording studio in 2014, they were already eyeing a grand project, an institute offering education and instruction for aspiring artists of all ages in performing and songwriting as well as audio and video engineering. Recently they have begun to pursue their vision in earnest.
"We have formed a nonprofit corporation, the Lakes Region Institute for the Arts," Ordway said Monday. He explained that originally the institute was intended for Wolfeboro, but on reflection they chose to
take a regional approach located in Laconia.
"It's going to take a community, several communities, to make it happen," he said.
Ordway anticipates financing the project with a mix of grant funding and private donations while at the same time drawing on his connections in the music business. He has recorded for television shows, including "The Office," and worked with both ESPN and NESN. He recently placed a survey online designed to measure interest and support for the project in the community and described the initial response as "really awesome." He counted more than 150 positive responses in the first few weeks. The link to the survey is www.surveymonkey/r/Letsbuild it.
"It will be a like mini music school," Ordway said, explaining that half the cost of tuition would be offset by scholarships. He said the cooperative has already worked with schools in the region, including Moultonborough Academy, Inter-Lakes High School, Prospect Mountain High School, and anticipates complementing the curriculum offered by the schools with instruction in audio and video engineering.
Meanwhile, Ordway has become a member of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, which is promoting the survey, and approached the Belknap Economic Development Commission.
"We've begun looking for a building or space in downtown Laconia," he said, adding that he was especially impressed by the Garden Theater at 634 Main St. The ideal venue would have space for teaching and rehearsal rooms, audio and video studios, and a sound stage.
A well-traveled singer-songwriter, Ordway recalled the project began five years ago when he met Franz Haase, a fellow musician, owner of the Folk Cellar in Wolfeboro and mainstay of the local arts community. They opened a small recording studio — Resort Recordings — and began pursuing plans to foster what Ordway called "a community of musicians."
Last year, Ordway and Haase moved their operation to Gilford, where, together they formed the nucleus of the Recording Co-Op.
"It began as a private thing," Ordway said, "for our band, Ordway, and our music."
Investing more than $100,000, they converted the horse barn to a recording studio, featuring a vintage mixing console acquired from Audio Magic, a studio in Buffalo, New York. Haase noted that Ani DeFranco recorded her first four albums on the console, which also laid down the voices of the Goo Goo Dolls and Willie Nelson.
"It's got a history," he said.
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