It’s hard to believe that at one point the Akron Civic Theatre in downtown Akron was slated for demolition. It’s one of the most sumptuously gorgeous theaters in the region — or, in fact, in the country.
Built in 1929 as a movie theater, it features a lavish Moorish-style lobby with alabaster sculptures, ornate balconies and most memorably, a domed ceiling resembling a night sky with twinkling stars and moving clouds. Over the years it’s hosted concerts by Louis Armstrong, Devo, Morrissey and the Akron Symphony, among hundreds of others. If you’ve never been inside, you should go.
Luckily, a civic campaign stopped that idea in its track and renovations took place in the 2000s, with the theater hosting music, films, benefits and other events.
Now, the Akron Civic Theatre has just announced that it surpassed its $8.5 million goal in its Staging the Future capital campaign, raising $9 million. The capital project is scheduled for completion this summer. Among the improvements so far include restoration of the grand lobby and entry arcade, a new box office with access from the entry arcade, the addition of two smaller performance/event venues, and murals on the north and south facades.
Still to be completed are an outdoor video wall on the building’s south side with capability to do live feeds of performances on the main auditorium stage; a deck overlooking Lock 3 on the building’s south side for pre- and post-show events; and a donor wall created by glass artist Nancy Gong, along with additional public art by local and regional artists.
In addition to a $4 million donation from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and a $1 million grant from the GAR Foundation, almost 1,000 donations came from individuals mostly in Summit County.
“As beautiful as it is, the Akron Civic Theatre is much more than a historical and architectural gem of the city,” says Candice Carlyon, current president of the theater’s board of directors in a press release. “It’s a very active regional cultural center and a vibrant and valuable community asset.
The Akron Civic Theatre will hold a week-long grand reopening celebration August 9-15, with a gala on August 14 and a free community open house on August 15.
Find more information and follow their progress at www.akroncivic.com.