Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex lobby with interior staircase leading to new Ricketson Theatre entrance. (Provided by DCPA)
Officials at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts are hoping to tap private and corporate dollars to close the gap in a $36 million capital campaign they unveiled Tuesday — the first in the nonprofit theater company’s nearly 40-year history.
Dubbed “A Grander Opening,” the campaign is already 75 percent funded thanks to $19 million from the city’s General Obligation Bonds and $8 million from trustees Marvin and Judi Wolf, DCPA chairman Martin Semple said at an event inside the Stage Theatre on Tuesday. The remaining $9 million will come from donations solicited during the campaign.
“We have relationships with a number of major corporate sponsors right now, like U.S. Bank and Atlantic Trust, and we’ll certainly continue to work on those,” Semple said. “But in a sense, we’re neophytes. We simply have never reached out in a major way to some of the truly large corporate groups that are either based here or have significant presences here.”
That’s a break from decades of tradition at the DCPA, although it’s unclear what form corporate sponsorship may take at the theaters. One thing is certain: Thanks to their lead, $8 million gift, longtime DCPA partrons and supporters Marvin and Judi Wolf will see the Stage Theatre renamed after them.
“DCPA founder and our good friend Donald Seawell had a vision, which was to create a theater for the community — where dreams were realized and imagination soared,” Judi said in a press statement.
To their surprise, Judi — dressed in a bright red dress with a red sequined handbag — and Marvin were presented at the Tuesday event with a proclamation signed by Mayor Michael Hancock naming June 5 as “Marvin and Judi Wolf Day.”
“What a surprise it was that my husband gave me a stage for Valentine’s Day,” Judi added in a promotional video that played in the Stage for media and DCPA staffers and trustees.
DCPA will use the $36 million to upgrade its aging Stage and Ricketson theaters in the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex, which itself sits on the larger, city-owned Denver Performing Arts Complex, home of the Ellie Caulins Opera House and Buell Theatre.
Provided by DCPA
The DCPA has invested $32.5 million in upgrades to its facilities over the past decade, but the capital campaign will allow them to replace worn seats, improve sight lines and acoustics, upgrade technology and add elevators, space and general accessibility to the Bonfils lobby, president and CEO Janice Sinden said.
That includes energy-efficient upgrades to lighting and mechanical systems, as well as safety upgrades, she said.
“This is a 40-year-old building. It’s tired,” Sinden said. “Making sure that our artists feel like this is the best place in the country to come and actually put on a show is exciting to us. And based on every donor, we’ll know what they care most about. We’re going to do a lot of research (around this).”
Semple Brown Design will lead the project, with the construction contract to be awarded in mid-June. The Stage Theatre will close after their production of “Anna Karenina” on Feb. 24, 2019, and reopen in November 2020 before the holiday return of “A Christmas Carol.” The Ricketson Theatre is scheduled to close in April 2020 and reopen spring 2021.
Semple said he hopes the DCPA’s renovations will lay the groundwork for the further, ongoing update of the total complex, which the city has dubbed The Next Stage plan.
“These are world-class facilities, but there’s ongoing needs,” he said. “We hope this (project) will be an incentive from the point of view of the city to continue that work at the complex as a whole.”