CAPA Puts State of Ohio Capital Budget Allocation Toward Ohio Theatre Renovation
Posted: February 4, 2021
Recently allocated $1.25 million of the State of Ohio’s 2020 capital budget, the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA) has combined a portion of the State funds—which must be used for the repair, reconstruction, or construction of physical property—with donations from private sources to begin a $900,000 renovation of the historic Ohio Theatre’s loge, mezzanine, and balcony.
A complete overhaul of the Ohio Theatre’s loge (or first seven rows of upper-level seating) began last week to reconstruct the aisle steps and implement new handrails. The railings lining the front and back of the loge will be upgraded and replaced as well, and new carpeting will be installed.
In addition, new handrails and carpet will be installed in the mezzanine and balcony (the remaining 25 rows of upper-level seating) and the railings lining the front and rear of each section will be upgraded and replaced.
“This renovation was originally slated for the summer of 2020, but was suspended indefinitely as CAPA and other local arts organizations battle the effects of the pandemic,” stated CAPA President and CEO Chad Whittington. “These funds come at the perfect time, allowing us the opportunity to make use of the shutdown in a positive way. This renovation is an important safety enhancement for our patrons when we are able to welcome them back to the Ohio Theatre again, enabling us to offer an even better customer experience. We are very grateful to the State of Ohio for its acknowledgement of the beloved Ohio Theatre.”
CAPA will employ all local contractors for the renovation which is expected to conclude in mid-May.
While plans are still in development, CAPA will utilize the balance of the capital budget allocation funds and private donations to implement further improvements to the Ohio Theatre including renovation of the mezzanine concessions area, enhanced wayfinding signage, and ADA accessibility upgrades.
All of the performance spaces owned or managed by CAPA closed March 12, 2020, as a result of the Governor’s executive order prohibiting gatherings of more than 100 people. Upon the Governor’s August 2020 reopening guidelines allowing public events at 15% of venue capacity, the Ohio Theatre has hosted a small number of public, socially distanced events such as an abbreviated CAPA Summer Movie Series and Columbus Symphony performances.
About the Ohio Theatre
The Spanish Baroque-style, 2,791-seat Ohio Theatre, designed by world-famous architect Thomas Lamb as “a palace for the average man,” opened on March 17, 1928, as a Loew’s movie house complete with its own orchestra and theatre organ. In addition to movies, vaudeville found a home on the Ohio stage, boasting performances from legends such as Milton Berle, Cab Calloway, Buddy Ebsen, Jean Harlow, and Ginger Rogers.
The Ohio Theatre thrived as a movie house until the suburban sprawl of the 1960s drew traffic out of downtown, and Loew’s closed its doors on February 24, 1969. Sold to a local development company with plans to raze it, the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA) was established on May 21, 1969, with the immediate mission to save the theatre from being destroyed. The newly formed non-profit leapt to rally the community in a “Save the Ohio” campaign that ultimately raised more than $2 million in less than a year. The unprecedented effort met its mark, and the glorious and beloved Ohio Theatre was saved.
Today, the Ohio Theatre hosts more than 100 performances of BalletMet, Broadway in Columbus, the Columbus Symphony, CAPA-presented performances, and a wide variety of touring artists and shows each year. The beloved venue is also now proudly listed on the National Register of Historic Places, been declared a National Historic Landmark, and is the State Theatre of Ohio.