MILFORD >> When Milford Arts Council Executive Director Paige Miglio is asked why she’s not painting anymore, her quick response is: “This is my art.”

Miglio is referring to running the bustling Milford Arts Council, which draws artists of all kinds from Fairfield County to Madison to the Valley.

“It’s a magic place,” she said.

And it just got more magical with renovations to its headquarters, the Center for the Arts, funded by state and city grants.

MAC is one of the few arts centers in the state that has a venue to exhibit artists’ work and to present performances in its theater that seats 100-110.

“There’s not a bad seat in the house,” Miglio said.

That space, 40 Railroad Ave. S., at the train station downtown, recently had an interior face-lift, and in the spring will get another sprucing up outside.

Thanks to a grant of $60,000 from the state and $15,000 from the city it has new carpet, paint, stage work, an improved concession area and a “speakeasy,” along with some details that add to the ambiance, such as Victorian-style velvet curtains.

MAC moved into the eastbound train station in 1995.

The outside work will include painting, improved signs, and a kiosk for pamphlets about MAC and city events.

“It is a joy to see the rebirth,” said Nell Moll, Milford Regional Chamber of Commerce director of membership, opportunities and enthusiasm.

“It fills the needs of the mainstream art and cultural venues with a variety of theater, community events and showcases a variety of music and visual arts.”

Moll said the location is perfect, as MAC’s center for the arts is steps away from downtown restaurants, cafes and shops, and is accessible by boat, train, car and foot.

BASEMENT SPEAKEASY

One of Miglio’s favorite parts of the renovations is the speakeasy in the basement. There’s a bar for snacks and drinks, and places for people to gather.

The ambiance has been transformed by the renovations.

The original white, bumpy walls of the foundation were painted to look like rocks pieced together and wooden beams were were added for a cozy feel.

Bert Bernardi, co-producer of Pantochino Productions, a theater company for children’s entertainment that performs in the theater, calls the upgrades “amazing.”

“From the moment one steps foot in the lobby, you know you’ve arrived at someplace warm and welcoming,” Bernardi said.

“The main hall looks positively spiffy wearing a fresh coat of paint and decked out with streamlined room-darkening shades.”

Bernardi said the audience might not notice the new stage floor and upgraded sound equipment, but the performers sure do.

He said Miglio has “created wonderful opportunities, performances and programs for all ages.”

“The MAC inspires, educates and encourages creativity,” he said.

MANY ART FORMS

MAC’s reach extends to many forms of art, including music, dance, writing, photography and films.

The space is also the performance venue for Milford Arts Council’s Eastbound Theatre, and can be rented by the public for ceremonies, events and parties.

Anyone can be a member of Milford Arts Council.

Miglio said she loves the communication that art facilitates, the collaboration, the power of art for bringing people together.

Miglio graduated from Rhode Island School of Design, had a career illustrating children’s books and once performed in musical theater statewide.

The Milford Arts Council receives incredible support from the city, maybe more than any other arts council in the state receives locally, Miglio said.

Mayor Benjamin G. Blake said he admires those who “create.”

“Creativity and the arts are at the core of successful society — and, in Milford, the MAC is at the core of our arts scene.

“The MAC cultivates the programs, projects and performances which inspire culture, elevate spirits, and motivate communities,” Blake said.

He said MAC has always been a very successful investment that has “paid back huge dividends to Milford.”

Artist Brechin Morgan, who stopped in to the MAC recently to see an exhibit, said Milford Arts Council is among the most active in the state, and a strong arts council draws people to Milford.

“My door is always open,” Miglio said.