Conner family takes lead in campaign with $9 million gift (largest in PlayhouseSquare history)
Funds raise will be used to ensure the legacy of PlayhouseSquare
It was through the tireless work, dedication and foresight so many years ago of a group of individuals that resurrected PlayhouseSquare from an urban blight into the second largest theater district in the country with the largest number of paid subscribers. In honor of these early “theater pioneers”, PlayhouseSquare has set out to secure this legacy through a $100 million capital campaign that will take place over the next three to five years.
“We feel a great responsibility to ensure that PlayhouseSquare remains strong, secure and enjoyable for future generations,” said Art J. Falco, president and CEO of PlayhouseSquare.
“The core need is to provide for the preservation of the beautiful gems that are our historic theaters; we also have objectives to support the arts education and production initiatives that are part of our not-for-profit mission.”
The program is called “Advancing the Legacy, The Campaign for PlayhouseSquare” and is led by co-chairs Thomas Adler, K.K. Sullivan and Daniel Walsh. This is the largest philanthropic effort ever to be pursued by PlayhouseSquare. To date, $35 million has been raised for the campaign whose objectives are capital improvements, endowment growth, neighborhood transformation, educational programming and new productions.
Recently, Chris and Sara Connor of hunting Valley, Ohio and their family made a $9 million donation to the campaign which is the largest gift ever received from a family in the history of PlayhouseSquare. Mr. Connor, Chairman and CEO of The Sherwin-Williams Company, is a member of the PlayhouseSquare Board of Trustees and vice chair of strategic planning for the organization.
"With this gift, the Connor family applauds the excellent work of the PlayhouseSquare leadership team in preserving these beautiful theaters as well as the revitalization efforts for their entire downtown neighborhood,” said Mr. Connor. “We feel blessed to be in a position to insure that laughter, singing, dancing, education and wonderment will continue to emanate from these stages to delight Clevelanders for centuries to come.”
As a tribute to Chris and Sara Connor and their family, the Palace Theatre (home of the KeyBank Broadway Series) will be renamed “The Connor Palace” with signage to be in place by late September of 2014.
The goals of the “Advancing the Legacy, The Campaign for PlayhouseSquare”
Since the rescue of the theaters in the 70’s when the PlayhouseSquare theaters were renovated and reopened in the 80’s there have not been any upgrades. In the ensuing 30 plus years, tremendous facility and technical advances have been made in the theater arts. The first goal is to implement this new technology so as to guarantee the longevity of the theaters as well as improve the audience experience.
It takes a firm endowment plan in order to ensure the viability of the theater district in Cleveland. Currently, the PlayhouseSquare endowment stands at $16 million (as compared to $96 million for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C.) By raising the endowment, the future of PlayhouseSquare is assured.
A great theater district needs to look great in order to attract continuing growth of audiences. The PlayhouseSquare experience begins the moment you step onto Euclid Avenue and see the arches, world setting chandelier and new theater facades. It is the $16 million “Dazzle the District Project” that has begun this campaign.
It is a proven fact that children exposed to the arts during their developmental years are the future of live theater audiences as later patrons of the fine arts. PlayhouseSquare recognizes this fact with a strong program of community engagement and education that encourages the youth of Cleveland to experience the magic of live theater. This important portion of the campaign plans for the increase accessibility of live theater for school groups as well as a fund dedicated to the creation of new children’s theater productions. This program is done in memory of arts education champion Colleen Porter.
It is the dream of those involved with PlayhouseSquare that pre-Broadway productions make their initial stops in our city. By doing this it will bolster the reputation of PlayhouseSquare as well as Cleveland while fueling the local economy. It is time that the second largest theater district in America with the largest subscription sales becomes “Off-Broadway” in its own right. This production fund will be used to bring new shows to Cleveland so that the new road to Broadway will run through Euclid Avenue to the Great White Way.
More information about the history of PlayhouseSquare and its impact on the city is available atplayhousesquare.org/history.
PlayhouseSquare is a world-class, not-for-profit performing arts center,
arts education champion and downtown developer.