The George Gund Foundation is taking Cleveland State University one step closer toward a new home for its expanded theater program by awarding the University $1 million to reconfigure PlayhouseSquare’s 2,800-seat Allen Theater into two smaller stages.
As part of CSU’s commitment to the belief that a culturally and economically vibrant City of Cleveland and Cleveland State University are mutually dependent, plans call for renovation of the PlayhouseSquare landmark into a state-of-the-art theater and movie venue that will provide the link between the theater patrons of PlayhouseSquare, the many facets of theater expertise throughout the region, and the students and faculty of the growing theater and dance programs at Cleveland State University.
“Creating a cultural center around the Allen Theater that will serve college students, theater professionals, local arts organizations, and patrons from across Northeast Ohio will strengthen the core of the CSU neighborhood, the adjoining theater district, and the City,” said Michael Schwartz, Cleveland State University President. “What’s more, we view the renovated Allen Theater as a community venue, available to smaller troupes with limited budgets or schedules, or with no stage or rehearsal space of their own. The excitement surrounding this project will make Cleveland sizzle, making the City and our downtown campus more appealing to students and encouraging them to live on or near campus.”
With CSU a leader in the revitalization of downtown into a vibrant neighborhood, the Allen Theater project promises to make Cleveland a center for theatrical excellence by creating a unique collaboration of educational and civic partners whose shared vision for the creative arts will some day include the facility to support their needs for performance, rehearsal, administrative, and set construction space all in one location.
Eventually, CSU plans to invite private colleges and universities, and high schools and other local arts organizations to use the theater, adding to the cost efficiency of its renovation and making it alive on an almost daily basis. The plan also includes collaboration with the Great Lakes Theater Festival, whose staff will use the set construction space for its productions.
“This creative re-use of an existing facility will provide CSU with space for its theater program at much less cost than new construction, bring increased activity to PlayhouseSquare and provide needed smaller performance venues for the community,” said David Abbott, George Gund Foundation executive director.
Besides the Gund Foundation award, an additional $1.3 million has been committed to CSU to date for the Allen Theater renovation - $1 million from Parker Hannifin Corporation and $300,000 from the state of Ohio for architecture and design work by Westlake Reed Leskosky. Fund raising for the Allen Theater project is expected to be completed by the end of June 2009 with theater renovation to begin immediately thereafter.
For additional information, contact Peter Anagnostos, Cleveland State University’s Vice President of University Advancement and Executive Director of the CSU Foundation, at 216.687.5522.
* * *
Cleveland State is a comprehensive metropolitan university committed to providing affordable education of high quality to students with diverse backgrounds, experiences, interests and needs. Located in downtown Cleveland with extended campuses in Westlake and Solon, Cleveland State offers degrees in hundreds of undergraduate and graduate programs and law, and professional development programs. Cleveland State reaches out to academically talented and highly motivated students through its Honors Program. And Cleveland State’s faculty is tops, with more than 90 percent holding the highest degree attainable in their field. Approximately 15,500 students attend Cleveland State.
The George Gund Foundation was established in 1952 by George Gund, former chairman of the Cleveland Trust Company. The Foundation funds programs that enhance our understanding of the physical and social environment in which we live and increase our ability to cope with its changing requirements. Grants are made quarterly in the areas of education, human services, economic and community development, environment and arts. Foundation commitments to date have totaled almost $523 million.
# # #