Amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has put the world into a state of unknown, the Maltz Jupiter Theatre has made the bold decision to postpone its current season until 2021/22 and use this fallow period to begin the buildout of its facilities. Recently, the Theatre’s Board of Directors unanimously voted in the immediate support of this newly-phased project, the Believe Capital Campaign, that they have been developing and fundraising over the past five years. “As Broadway and regional theatres across the country remain closed through the foreseeable future, it became clear that with proper planning, our organization could make use of this downtime to make the improvements to the building we have contemplated as part of our strategic plan,” said Andrew Kato, the Theatre’s Producing Artistic Director and Chief Executive.
The original concept of the Believe Capital Campaign was arranged in three phases or “Acts.” Act I was completed last summer, giving the Theatre a redesigned parking lot, new marquees, and electrical infrastructure to support the new 30,000-square-foot addition to the building. The next phase of construction combines Act II and Act III together, which includes numerous upgrades to the Theatre’s current facilities: a Broadway-scale stage, an expanded orchestra pit, a state-of-the-art production center, a second 199-seat theatre, a new dining experience, and an enlarged version of the Goldner Conservatory of Performing Arts. According to Raymond Graziotto of Seven Kings Holdings, “Doing these phases together will prevent additional interruptions to our future seasons and saves the Theatre about $3-4 million in costs.” Ray has been advising the Theatre on the project for the last few years with his pro bono expertise. Ray added, “The Theatre will save an additional $2 million by not having to take the Theatre’s productions, operations, and Conservatory off-site for the 13-month initial build period. These are compelling numbers.”
How Can WE Get This To Happen Now?
As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Theatre’s staff and Board have been working in overdrive to figure out how to make this expansion happen now.
At the beginning of the year, the Theatre was planning to take another year to round-out fundraising to reach the $32 million goal. “A project of this scale requires significant dollars to become a reality. Thankfully, Milton and Tamar Maltz recently stepped up yet again, offering a $5 million ‘top-off grant’ above the $5 million challenge grant they proposed in the 2018/19 season. This simply would not be happening without their continued generosity,” said Bill Morton, a Maltz Jupiter Theatre Board member and Chairman of the Believe Capital Campaign Committee. Bill added, “Many donors have added to their contributions knowing the project is underway, and most have advanced their pledges, so we don’t need to fund their contributions with a bridge loan. Everyone is doing their part to help make this happen...It’s impressive.”
Another immediate challenge that needed to be overcome is the amount of time that the business could be interrupted. For the Theatre to resume season productions in October 2021—13 months from now—a new strategy had to be devised to ensure that deadlines could be met. Using the combined talents of architects Jess Sowards, Oscar Garcia, and Jose Jaramillo of Currie Sowards Aguila Architects, Ray Graziotto and Kenneth Blair of Seven Kings Holdings, and newly-appointed Owners Representative Ken Cates of North Star Management, construction costs and timelines were reevaluated. Doug Brown, a Maltz Jupiter Theatre Board member and Chairman of the Building Committee, explained, “The current plan is to frame out the shell that will house all aspects of Act II and III together, giving priority to completing the stage and most of the production support facilities. This will ensure we can produce our Broadway-quality plays and musicals in time for the following season. In the coming months and years, we will continue to complete the remaining portions of the building as these various phases become fully funded.”
Exactly How Fast Will This All Happen?
Support is critical. On a recent phone call with leadership and planners of the Town of Jupiter, Mayor Todd Wodraska affirmed their commitment to the project stating, “The Maltz Jupiter Theatre and the Town of Jupiter have enjoyed a long history of partnership to ensure we have art, culture, and arts education in our community. We view this organization as one of the reasons people choose Jupiter to be their home. Having the largest regional theatre in the lower half of the United States right here in our backyard makes us very proud.” Quick approvals and permitting will be critical. Having the Town of Jupiter put their full support behind the project will allow deadlines to be met and will keep the buildout on schedule.
A project of this scale requires “buy–in” from all players as changes on the five-acre property will happen almost immediately. Beginning in early September through November, demolition will remove the stage tower on the west side of the building as well as the Conservatory of Performing Arts on the north side. The Theatre’s seating chamber, lobby, and administrative offices that were renovated six years ago will remain untouched. “Effectively, we are removing an L-shaped area around the building that will undergo a significant upgrade,” stated Eileen Daly, a Maltz Jupiter Theatre Board member.
The Production Center, one of the first and most impressive elements of the project, will be named in honor of Glenn W. and Cornelia T. Bailey and will feature a three-story wall of glass facing the Indiantown Road entrance. Ms. Daly added, “Being able to peer into the inner workings of the Theatre and observe rehearsals and costume preparation as you walk into the Theatre will be thrilling. It’s like looking into the soul of the organization. Cornelia always valued the arts as an important avenue for self-reflection, to chronicle our history and humanity.”
With so many people adding their support for the Maltz Jupiter Theatre’s growth, this new building will be a reality very soon. Andrew Kato acknowledged this unusual time of growth, saying, “It speaks volumes about how our audience and donors feel about us. While many cultural organizations are struggling to deal with the difficulties caused by COVID-19, we will be able to use this time to expand. It is a privilege to be part of a community that is willing to turn lemons into lemonade during these turbulent times.”