Monday, May 6, 2019

Historic Walnut Street Theatre Unveils $39M Expansion Project

by John Jordan,
America’s oldest theater—the Walnut Street Theatre—unveiled a $39-million expansion plan during its annual Gala Concert on Friday evening.
The expansion plan, which will provide more than 35,000 square feet of new space, will also include a fully renovated lobby and box office, additional space for its growing educational programs, two state-of-the-art rehearsal halls, a 400-seat theatre-in-the-round and a public restaurant.

The capital expansion project will allow for the conversion of former rehearsal halls into the first dedicated education spaces in the history of the theatre. When completed, the theatre will offer three new dedicated classrooms that will enhance the capabilities of its Theatre School.
“For over two centuries the Walnut has adapted to the needs of the community,” says Walnut Street Theatre president and producing artistic director Bernard Harvard. “This is the latest reinvention of the theatre that so many in the Greater Philadelphia area call home, and guarantees that generations to come will also be able to make the Walnut their theatre home.”

The theatre has launched a capital campaign for the project that it hopes to break ground on in the spring of 2020. The Walnut Street Theatre is looking to complete the expansion project sometime in 2022. The theatre is seeking contributions from public resources as well as from private philanthropy. Specifically, the theatre is seeking donations from its 50,000 season ticket subscribers, individual ticket buyers, corporations and foundations, as well as from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The Walnut Street Theatre was founded in 1809 and is the Official State Theatre of Pennsylvania and a National Historic Landmark.
“The expansion will allow us to strengthen our role as an incubator for theatre arts in Philadelphia, while at the same time preserving our history and strengthening our legacy,” says Walnut Street Theatre board chair Richard A. Mitchell. “Our mission statement says in part that we are a non-profit theatre whose purpose is to sustain the tradition of professional theatre, contributing to its future and vitality. Our project does just that.”:

In addition to five main-stage productions, the Walnut Street Theatre for Kids Series and Independent Studio on 3 Series, the Walnut Theatre’s education and outreach programs bring live theatre to more than 150,000 students, teachers, parents and children each year.

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