Cleveland, OH – PlayhouseSquare exists today thanks to the dedication and foresight of a group of individuals who saw the theaters as both a symbol of Cleveland’s past and an inspiration for the future. To honor their efforts and continue serving the community, PlayhouseSquare aims to secure its legacy through a $100 million capital campaign 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.”
“Advancing the Legacy, The Campaign for PlayhouseSquare,” led by chairs Thomas Adler, K.K. Sullivan and Daniel Walsh, is the largest philanthropic effort ever pursued by the organization. $35 million has been raised toward the campaign to date and its objectives are: capital improvements, endowment growth, neighborhood transformation, education programming and new productions.
Chris and Sara Connor of Hunting Valley, OH and their family have made a $9 million gift to the campaign, the largest gift received from a family in PlayhouseSquare history. 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. 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."
In honor of Chris and Sara Connor and their family, the historic Palace Theatre, home of the KeyBank Broadway Series, will be renamed the “Connor Palace.” Signage is expected to be in place by the end of September. “We are deeply grateful to Chris, Sara and their family,” said Mr. Falco. “This leadership gift is a testament to their commitment to PlayhouseSquare and to Cleveland.”
Saved from imminent destruction in the 1970s, the historic PlayhouseSquare theaters were renovated and reopened in the 1980s but have not been updated since that time. Facility and technological improvements are necessary to guarantee the longevity of the venues and improve audience experience.
The PlayhouseSquare endowment is currently at $16 million, a fraction of what is needed to preserve the organization’s incomparable assets for future generations. In comparison, the endowment for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. stands at $96 million.
The $16 million Dazzle the District project, including the world record-setting GE Chandelier, is part of this campaign.
The cornerstone of community engagement and education programming at PlayhouseSquare is theater for young audiences. The organization plans to increase the accessibility of live theater for school groups and establish a dedicated fund for the creation of new children’s theater productions in memory of arts education champion Colleen Porter.
With remarkable resources available for the creation of new works, PlayhouseSquare has the potential to attract pre-Broadway productions to Cleveland, fueling the local economy and bolstering the reputation of both the organization and the city within the performing arts industry. “The production fund will bring national focus and prestige to the organization, attract jobs and dollars into the local economy, and let the arts community know that the greatest road to Broadway is from PlayhouseSquare to the middle of Manhattan," said K.K. Sullivan, campaign chair.
More information about the history of PlayhouseSquare and its impact on the city is available at playhousesquare.org/history.
Click here to download a high resolution photo of the Connor family and Connor Palace artwork.