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The Tony Award-winning Utah Shakespeare Festival announced plans to build a $26.5 million Shakespeare theater on the campus of Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah.
Construction of the new 900-seat theater is expected to begin in the fall of 2013 and would be completed by early 2015. Compared to the Festival’s existing Adams Memorial Shakespearean Theatre, the new playhouse would allow the Festival to add additional performances, thus increasing the attendance by 25 percent, bringing an estimated 30,000 additional patrons to Cedar City annually.
Fred C. Adams, founder of the Utah Shakespeare Festival, said the Festival boasts an animated history worthy of a great play itself.
“The current theater has been a joy to perform in and has served the actors, directors and patrons well for more than 35 years,” Adams said. “But as the Festival has grown, we are now feeling a dire need for a larger, more modern facility that includes such creature comforts as public restrooms and a proper backstage area. When completed, this new Shakespeare theater will recreate the charm and intimate environment under the stars that has so thrilled and excited our patrons from across the nation and throughout the world.”
Currently slated to take up an area east of Southern Utah University campus on 200 West between Center Street and College Avenue, the new theater will include a retractable roof that will allow expansion of the play season and the potential of year-round usage. It will also offer greater audience amenities, such as public restrooms, ADA accommodations, and heating and air conditioning improvements. Additionally, an incorporated artistic center will provide necessary and functional facilities for a number of artistic, technical, and administrative uses. The Festival currently attracts nearly 120,000 patrons annually, and one in three audience members travel from outside of Utah.
“The addition of the new Shakespeare theater will not only allow us to increase the size and scope of our programming, but more importantly it will continue to make the Utah Shakespeare Festival and Cedar City among the top destinations in our region for patrons and top-tier artists alike,” said Festival Artistic Directors David Ivers and Brian Vaughn.
A recent economic impact study revealed the Festival generates more than $35 million annually in patron spending and tax revenues. The average nonresident audience member attending the Festival spent $106 per event above the cost of their admission ticket for lodging, transportation, restaurants and souvenirs. The study also indicates that the new theater will increase the economic impact by an estimated $8 million annually by drawing 30,000 additional patrons to Cedar City.
Additional highlights of the Festival include:
“The Utah Shakespeare Festival is a multi-million dollar economic engine for the State of Utah that creates jobs, increases tourism, generates tax revenue, and expands cultural opportunities, and we are thrilled to be affiliated with it on our campus,” said Michael T. Benson, president of Southern Utah University. “The new theater will ensure the Festival continues to entertain audiences for the rest of this century.”