Release Date: March 26,2019

Akron Civic Theatre to kick off public phase of capital campaign with free 90th anniversary celebration

The Akron Civic Theatre will kick off the public phase of its “Staging the Future” capital campaign with a free party celebrating the theater’s 90th anniversary on Saturday, April 13, 2019, beginning at 1:30 p.m.

The community is invited to the Civic for free entertainment, cake and other refreshments in the Grand Lobby before gathering in the auditorium to enjoy theater’s Mighty Wurlitzer and a screening of the classic movie musical, “Singin’ in the Rain.” The Civic’s exciting restoration and transformation plans will be unveiled.  Wayside Furniture has generously agreed to match all donations made to the campaign during the event, up to $2,000.

The event is free, but tickets are required. Tickets are available through the Akron Civic Theatre Box Office at 182 S. Main St. in Akron; Wayside Furniture at 1367 Canton Rd. in Akron; and all Nervous Dog Coffee Bars in the greater Akron area.

Opened on April 20, 1929, the Civic was conceived by entertainment mogul Marcus Loew and designed by theater architect John Eberson. In 1965, a “Save the Civic” effort organized by the Akron Jaycees Foundation to save the deteriorating facility resulted in the name change to Akron Civic Theatre. In 2002, the Civic closed for 16 months to undertake a $22 million restoration and expansion project, which brought most of the facility up to modern performance and patron standards; however, the Grand Lobby and Arcade were not restored at that time.

“Staging the Future” is the Civic’s $8.5 million project that honors the theater’s history and while it prepares the organization to serve the community well into the future. The project will:

•    complete restoration of the theater that began in 2002, specifically the Grand Lobby and Arcade;
•    restore the Whitelaw building on the Civic’s immediate north side to create a 200+ capacity performance space, which will increase programming and community engagement;
•    replace areas lost when the Stage Left/Rite Aid building was demolished in 2016 by constructing a new administrative office, new box office and ADA-access elevator;
•    integrate digital, audio and visual technologies and art to enhance the exterior of the building and the neighborhood with a large video wall facing Lock 3 and visually impactful murals on the south- and north-facing walls of the Grand Lobby;
•    and create a maintenance and cash reserve to protect the investment and secure the future of the operation.

To date, $7 million has been secured toward the $8.5 million goal. In addition to a $4 million grant from the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation and a $1 million grant from GAR Foundation, the theater has also received generous contributions and grants from individuals, corporations, foundations and the State of Ohio.

As a beautiful visual anchor and an arts and entertainment attraction on the S. Main St./Bowery St. corridor, the Civic will contribute significantly to the renewed vibrancy in downtown generated by The Bowery project. According to a recent study by Americans for the Arts, the Civic currently generates an annual $8.1 million in economic activity in Akron. The addition of the new performance venue, combined with additional programming on the main stage will increase the impact to nearly $9 million by the third year of operation.