TheatreSquared to Break Ground on Permanent Home, Launch 'Our Next Stage' Campaign
TheatreSquared (T2) Artistic Director Robert Ford and Executive Director Martin Miller today announced that, on June 23 at 4pm, the company will break ground on the region's first dedicated, permanent home for professional theatre and publicly launch the Our Next Stage Campaign, a $34 million effort to fully fund construction and establish an artistic, operating and education reserve.
Construction on the region's new 50,000 square-foot, two-venue facility, designed by international design award recipients Marvel Architects and Charcoalblue, will begin immediately and continue through 2019. T2 staff and artists will be joined at the groundbreaking ceremony by a committee of Northwest Arkansas civic leaders, who will carry the campaign forward in its public phase, along with a documentary film crew from the American Theatre Wing, founder of the Tony Awards. The ceremony will be held at 477 W. Spring St., the future site of the new facility.
"It's a thrilling moment for Northwest Arkansas," said Miller. "In this architecturally significant yet intimately scaled new theatre center, millions of Arkansans will experience remarkable performances by exceptional artists. Beginning June 23, we'll work to bring the community together in a public campaign to achieve our $34 million goal and guarantee the future of this vision."
"With this new cultural landmark, we are proud to strengthen our region's reputation as a national destination for the arts and for singular live performances," said Ford. "On June 23, we'll break ground and invite our community to join us in a campaign to ensure the next 100 years of remarkable live theatre in Northwest Arkansas."
The public phase of the Our Next Stage Campaign will be led by a committee of volunteer civic leaders, including Ted & Leslie Belden, Kirk Thompson & Brett Burch, Joel & Lynn Carver, Carolyn & Nick Cole, Denise & Hershey Garner, Susan & Orville Hall, Greg & Hannah Lee, Scott & Shizuko Price, Margaret & Dick Rutherford, Judy & Bill Schwab, Todd & Shelley Simmons, Tod Yeslow & Jackie Telfair, and Jenifer Tucker.
TheatreSquared's new home will unite two state-of-the-Art Theatres, the company's first dedicated rehearsal space, staff offices, education and community space, on-site design and building workshops, eight dedicated guest artist apartments, outdoor public spaces at three levels, and an open-all-day café/bar, all at 477 W. Spring Street in downtown Fayetteville.
"I'm proud to say that this is one of the most intimate, yet immersive theatre spaces Charcoalblue has yet designed," said senior project manager Clem Abercrombie. Charcoalblue, lead consultant and theatre designer for T2's new facility, has been hailed as one the most innovative players in the international performing arts design field. Their portfolio ranges from the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Stirling Award-winning Everyman Theatre, the Donmar Warehouse, and U.S. companies Chicago Shakespeare Theater and Baltimore Center Stage. The firm is leading theatre design for The Perelman @WTC, the new, REX-designed performing arts building at the World Trade Center site.
Marvel Architects' previous collaboration with Charcoalblue for the New York Theatre Company St. Ann's Warehouse recently won the 2017 AIA Institute Honor Award, the profession's highest recognition of works that exemplify excellence in architecture. Architect Jonathan Marvel began his career under Richard Meier, working on the Getty Museum and the High Museum; today, he leads a team at New York-based Marvel Architects that has won more than 60 national and international design awards.
Arkansas-based construction firm Baldwin & Shell will construct the facility. The company's many projects include the new Spring Street Parking Deck and the renovated the Vol Walker Hall and Steven L. Anderson Design Center at the University of Arkansas.
Plans for Northwest Arkansas's permanent regional theatre began to take form in 2015, when a special community task force unanimously recommended launching an exploratory process toward building a new home for TheatreSquared. That fall, T2 won a prestigious Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and was selected as an inaugural participant in the Walton Family Foundation's Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program. The program provides financial support to develop space for public purposes, with funds earmarked for all phases of design work.
In 2016, the Fayetteville City Council voted unanimously to approve a 100-year lease on a downtown site directly across from the theatre's current venue at Walton Arts Center's Nadine Baum Studios. The site is steps from Dickson Street; blocks from the Fayetteville Public Library, the downtown Square, and the University of Arkansas campus; and across the street from a new 250-space parking garage. In 2017, Mayor Lioneld Jordan and the Fayetteville City Council responded to a pacesetting $12.5 million commitment from the Walton Family Foundation with a $3.1 million commitment toward the project, followed by a leadership $3 million commitment from the Fayetteville A&P Commission.
The current fundraising total, inclusive of these lead commitments, will be announced at the campaign kickoff and groundbreaking on June 23. Press and TheatreSquared patrons are invited to join for the ceremony at 4pm, with a reception to follow.
TheatreSquared has launched a detailed website with design images, backstory, and process galleries at ournextstage.org.