Orpheum Breaks Ground on New Education Centre
Today the Memphis Development Foundation, the parent company which operates the Orpheum Theatre, initiated the construction phase of a new downtown development project: the Orpheum Centre for Performing Arts & Education. More than 200 people attended the groundbreaking ceremony taking place at 225 S. Main Street, the site of the new Orpheum Centre, and a reception inside the Orpheum Theatre's Grand Lobby.
Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell, Jr.; Memphis Development Foundation Chairman Karen Fields-Isaacman and Incoming Chairman Andy Taylor; and Greater Memphis Chamber Board Chairman Leigh Shockey were among the community leaders who joined Pat Halloran, Orpheum President and CEO, in the groundbreaking ceremony.
"We are thrilled that so many members of the community came to support this milestone event," said Halloran. "Once opened to the public, the Orpheum Centre will allow us to expand our education programs, free up time and space in the historic Orpheum Theatre for additional events, and - most importantly - ensure that no student is ever turned away from our programs due to a lack of adequate space."
Three student groups performed during the press conference, showcasing the variety of benefits that youth experience as a result of performing-arts education, including increased creativity, self-esteem and expression. The three groups represented the Orpheum's reach throughout the tri-state area of Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi.
Northpoint Christian School of Southaven, Mississippi, performed "An Old-Fashioned Wedding," a selection from the musical Annie Get Your Gun. Wynne High School of Wynne, Arkansas, performed a medley of songs from The Slipper and the Rose. Germantown High School of Germantown, Tennessee, performed "You Can't Stop the Beat" from the musical Hairspray.
Breyannah Tillman, a past participant in the Orpheum's educational programming and current student at The University of Memphis, also spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony: "Being involved with the Orpheum showed me that I can follow my passion and that dreams can come true."
The new Orpheum Centre will stand two stories tall, with 39,000 square feet of space. It will provide adequate classroom space equipped for instruction, an audio-video lab, a large multi-use rehearsal hall, and a state-of-the-art stage and 356-seat theatre. The facility will allow for more musicals, concerts, family programs, and multicultural events. Expanded programming will include:
o Professional development workshops for educators
o Intensive workshops in musical and technical theatre
o Career assistance and training for aspiring arts professionals of all ages
o Technical training in sound and lighting for students, schools and local nonprofits
o Training in arts and nonprofit management.
Once the Orpheum Centre is completed, the resulting performing arts campus will rival those found in most major cities and will allow Orpheum education programs to serve 100,000 individuals annually.
The total cost to build and open the Orpheum Centre is $14.5 million. To date, $10 million has already been donated by individual, corporate, and foundation donors with the remaining financial needs expected to be met prior to the Centre's opening.
"We are honored at the support we've received from all over the Mid-South, and we are confident that the community will see us through to the completion of this incredible building," concluded Halloran.