The First 50:
When Robert Karlsberger, Lawrence Fisher, Jean Whallon, and Scott Whitlock formed CAPA on May 1969, its immediate mission was to save the historic and stunning Loew's Ohio Theatre from being destroyed. The 1928 Spanish Baroque-style movie house, designed by architect Thomas Lamb as “a palace for the average man,” was closed by Loew’s on February 24, 1969, and sold to a local development company with plans to raze it, and the adjacent RKO Grand Theatre, to build an office tower. 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 safe. Today, the Ohio Theatre is proudly listed on the National Register of Historic Places, been declared a National Historic Landmark, and is the State Theatre of Ohio.
When CAPA’s founders created the organization, they envisioned unlimited possibilities for the new non-profit and were deliberate in selecting a name that wasn’t specific to the Ohio Theatre. The decision proved insightful, as more grand ladies and broader horizons were to follow.
In 1986, the Southern Theatre was donated to CAPA. The 1896 jewel box opera house had closed in 1979 and needed extensive repair. CAPA again rallied the community and raised $10 million to fund a 14-month, total restoration. Reopened in 1998, the thriving Southern Theatre is Columbus’ oldest existing theatre and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1989, CAPA was gifted the Palace Theatre, a 1926 vaudeville house whose design was inspired by France’s magnificent Palais de Versailles. CAPA immediately assumed responsibility of the venue’s care and management, and in 2018, completed a $2.5 million, full renovation of its magnificent auditorium.
Having built a reputation for excellence in entertainment venue stewardship, CAPA has been approached by various Columbus entities throughout the years, and taken on management of seven additional theatres:
1994 - Riffe Center Theatre Complex (downtown Columbus) – Davidson Theatre, Studio One, Studio Two, Studio Three
2009 – Lincoln Theatre (downtown Columbus)
2011 – Drexel Theatre (Bexley)
2013 – Jeanne B. McCoy Center for the Arts (New Albany)
In addition to maintaining and renting out these venues, CAPA also presents more than 40 national touring artists each season in all genres of performance art – dance, theatre, comedy, music, family entertainment, and much more. In the 2017-18 season, including rental and CAPA-presented performances, CAPA theatres hosted nearly 800 events for more than 580,000 people, generating more than $92 million in economic impact for Columbus.
In 2003, CAPA began a shared services business model and began offering back office, administrative services to fellow non-profit arts and culture organizations in the Columbus community. Each agreement is customized according to the organization’s needs but can include marketing, publicity, ticketing, finance, human resources, IT, management, operations, and/or development functions. The model allows the organizations to focus on production of their art while CAPA handles administrative tasks. Today, CAPA holds service agreements with CATCO (since 2003), Franklin Park Conservatory (since 2009), the Lincoln Theatre Association (since 2009), the Columbus Symphony (since 2010), the Friends of the Drexel (since 2011), Opera Columbus (since 2011), and the McCoy Center for the Arts (since 2013).
In 2009, CAPA also took on production of Festival Latino after city budget cuts put the event in jeopardy of discontinuation. This family-friendly, free event celebrates the rich cultures of Latin America with two days of music, dance, fashion, food, children’s activities, and more, and has become the largest Hispanic event in Ohio.
CAPA has also established a long-standing partnership with Broadway Across America, is a sanctioned member of the Broadway League, and is an official sponsor of the Regional Awards Program of The Jimmy Awards®/National High School Musical Theatre Awards.™