Waltons pledge $9 million matching grant to planned TheatreSquared venue

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 275 views 

The Walton Family Foundation will give almost $9 million toward construction of TheatreSquared’s new venue in Fayetteville, if the regional professional theater company satisfies a 1:2 fundraising challenge, the company announced on Tuesday (Jan. 17) at the winter meeting of the Northwest Arkansas Council.

The foundation has now pledged a total of $12.5 million toward the project, having awarded $3.5 million for the facility’s design through its Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program. The TheatreSquared venue was one of three architectural projects the foundation selected in September 2015 for the program, intended to raise the standard of architectural quality in the region.

“These significant commitments are an incredible affirmation of the path ahead,” TheatreSquared Executive Director Martin Miller said in a press release.

The total cost of the project has not yet been announced. However, the scope of the theater’s capital campaign for the project will be revealed when it enters the public phase this spring, and the plan is to break ground sometime in 2017, ahead of a fall 2019 opening.

“Generations of Northwest Arkansans who attend performances in TheatreSquared’s new facility will enjoy a transformative arts experience – enhancing our region’s high quality of life and vibrant sense of place,” Walton Family Foundation Home Region Program Director Karen Minkel said in the press release. “We look forward to Fayetteville and the Northwest Arkansas community joining us to make this vision a reality.”

TheatreSquared revealed in November its design plans for the 50,000-square-foot entertainment venue in downtown Fayetteville.

The planned facility, located at the corner of West Avenue and Spring Street, is intended to be the “permanent home” for TheatreSquared, which has outgrown Walton Arts Center’s Nadine Baum Studios, a converted warehouse also on West Avenue. The theater has operated out of Nadine Baum since it was founded in 2005.

Features of the new TheatreSquared venue will include a state-of-the-art “main stage” theater, seating 280, and a flexible “black box” studio theater, seating 99, in addition to several community spaces and a small restaurant — both of which will be open to the public.

The main building, which has three levels, will also have rehearsal space, staff offices and on-site design workshops, and a separate building will have eight guest artist apartments, according to a press release.

The city of Fayetteville is leasing the 0.8-acre piece of property on which the theater will be built to the company, through a 25-year, renewable lease at no rental cost.

Support from the design excellence program helped TheatreSquared land New York City-based Marvel Architects to design the building. It has won more than 60 national and international design awards, according to TheatreSquared. Its designs include the new Brooklyn Public Library, the new Constitution Gardens on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and the new home for the New York theater company, St. Ann’s Warehouse — a project, like the TheatreSquared venue, the firm designed in conjunction with Charcoalblue, theater planners based in London.

Charcoalblue is deemed an innovative leader in its field, according to TheatreSquared. It is also leading theater design for a performing arts building at the World Trade Center site in New York.

More information on the TheatreSquared facility is available at ournextstage.org.