The Footlight Players is planning a major behind-the-scenes renovation expected to add some theater space for Charleston’s thriving, but occasionally homeless arts community.

“We know there are no small venues in town for performances,” says Executive Director Jocelyn Edwards. “We get calls all the time from people to rent our theater.”

But the community theater’s own busy schedule provides few opportunities for those folks, she says.

A non-historic cinder block building at the back of the Footlight lot on Queen Street will be demolished and replaced by a 100-seat black box theater. The black box style will allow for a modular seating to suit individual productions.

Edwards says the new digs will allow the Footlight to offer intimate space for dance recitals, musical performance, and, of course, theater productions, including the Footlight’s own acting classes and its late night series. It could also provide more space for Spoleto and Mojo arts festival acts.

“We’re building a facility for our community,” Edwards says.

The work is expected to take two to three years and cost between $1 million and $2 million. The final timeline and price will depend on detailed design plans, which should begin when or if the city zoning board gives the theater group an exception to parking requirements and a height variance.

The new building will be about seven feet taller than the existing structure, but will still be shorter than the main theater hall. The extra height will allow for a second floor that could offer added space for costume storage and rehearsals. —Greg Hambrick