MALTZ JUPITER THEATRE
TO COMPLETE $30 MILLION EXPANSION
DURING COVID-19 CLOSURE
The not-for-profit regional Theatre has fast-tracked plans to break ground this month on its much-anticipated expansion, paving the way for the Theatre to produce the next Broadway-bound hit musical
August 17, 2020 (Jupiter, Fla.) — As performing arts venues around the country collectively reel from closures due to COVID-19, the largest regional theatre in the southern half of the U.S. is moving forward with a bold and daring $30 million expansion.
The not-for-profit Maltz Jupiter Theatre, a 617-seat LORT B+ theatre in South Florida, has postponed its 2020/21 season for the safety and health of its patrons, volunteers and staff and is instead investing in its future: its long-awaited plans for a Broadway-scale stage and production facilities, joining the ranks of theatres such as La Jolla Playhouse and the Goodman Theatre.
Officials at the Theatre — who completed the first phase of improvements for the project last summer — have spent five years fundraising for the expansion, with the work originally slated to begin in phases in April 2021. Instead, when the COVID-19 crisis hit this spring and forced the Theatre’s leadership to grapple with the possibility that the 2020/21 season might not happen, the Theatre’s board of directors and staff began working nonstop to jumpstart the expansion.
“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 Producing Artistic Director and Chief Executive Andrew Kato. “Completing the work now will ensure that we can come back stronger than ever when we reopen, and this expansion is bringing us even closer to reaching our goals of producing the next Broadway-bound play or musical right here in South Florida.”
The new plan now compresses the next two phases of construction into 13 months to create the Theatre’s much-anticipated dream space: a Broadway-scale stage that will allow the Theatre to qualify for a pre-Broadway or national tour development production, three floors of state-of-the-art production facilities with floor-to-ceiling glass windows, an innovative dining experience, expanded Conservatory and lobby, redesigned entrance and second theater space.
Designed by Oscar Garcia in tandem with visionary architectural firm Currie Sowards Aguila Architects, the fast-tracked plan entails first framing out the “shell” that will house all aspects of the expansion, giving priority to completing the stage, production support facilities and lobby to ensure that the Theatre can move seamlessly into its 2021/22 season as planned. Over the next few years, the Theatre will continue to fundraise to put the finishing touches on the remaining inside portions of the building, such as plumbing and electrical work for the Conservatory, Scene Café and 199-seat second space.
The ordinarily-buzzing Theatre has not escaped the devastation facing arts organizations across the nation in recent months. In March, a statewide shutdown forced the Theatre to move Conservatory classes online and postpone the Theatre’s season production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, though the Theatre still managed to provide patrons with a streaming video option. While the Theatre had initially planned to proceed with the postponed musical and its 2020/21 season in the fall, rising statewide COVID-19 numbers have made reopening as planned impossible at this time. The Theatre is still hoping to be able to mount the production at an offsite venue this spring if the local situation improves.
Without sufficient revenue from performances — attended by more than 100,000 visitors annually — the Theatre has been forced to furlough 80 percent of its staff, slash its annual budget for the current season by 80 percent and cease operation of the Conservatory, which historically serves 600 students per year. With devastating losses like these, completing the expansion now and focusing on being fully operational by the start of the 2021/22 season was a risk worth taking, said Maltz Jupiter Theatre Board Chairman W. Scott Seeley.
“The losses to our organization and industry have been catastrophic,” he said. “We can’t pretend that this has not been very difficult uncharted territory for the Maltz Jupiter Theatre. But while we may be hitting ‘pause’ on our performances this season, we are determined to keep looking toward the future and focusing on transforming our Theatre into the best regional theater in the nation that will be ready for guests as soon as it’s safe to reopen again.”
The expansion work is estimated to provide 100 jobs during the coming year for construction workers, electricians and more, and will save the Theatre an estimated $3 to $4 million by completing the next two phases together. And when the Theatre resumes its normal operations, the Theatre’s status as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit producing organization means that every dollar spent at the Theatre goes back into the local economy – from patrons dining at area restaurants to the many local contractors and vendors hired by the Theatre each season for goods and services.
Using a calculation cited by Americans for the Arts — which estimates that arts organizations generate seven times their annual budget in additional revenue for their communities — the Theatre’s typical annual budget of $8 million drives an additional $56 million in business activity to the region. This is part of $633 million generated annually by Palm Beach County’s arts and cultural organizations. The Theatre historically employs 48 year-round and seasonal employees, as well as about 100 performers per year and 25 designers.
The fast-tracked plan would not have been possible without a $5 million top-off grant from philanthropists and founding board members Milton and Tamar Maltz, who stepped in to offer the remaining funds required to complete the work this season, in addition to the $5 million matching challenge grant through The Milton and Tamar Maltz Family Foundation previously granted to the project. Many donors also added to their contributions when they learned the project would be starting sooner than expected.
“It is a privilege to be part of a community that is willing to turn lemons into lemonade during these turbulent times, and I’d like to encourage everyone to join us in this journey of standing by the Maltz Jupiter Theatre and continuing to believe in its future,” said Marketing Director Dana Munson. “Since its inception in 2004, the Theatre has served as an extraordinary centerpiece of year-round performing arts activities for all in South Florida. Having this expansion completed will be a wonderful asset for the community that will increase the Theatre’s value and visibility.”
The Theatre’s postponed 2021/22 season will feature three previously-announced shows and two new ones. The season will open with Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express (October 31 – November 14, 2021) and Sweet Charity (November 30 – December 19, 2021), followed by a special surprise: a big hit Broadway musical so huge that the Theatre isn’t contractually allowed to announce it yet (January 11 – February 6, 2022)! The sizzling season will continue with I Hate Hamlet (February 20 – March 6, 2022) and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Musical (March 22 – April 10, 2022).
All limited engagements and the two planned benefit concerts (Stephanie J. Block and Jason Newsted and The Chophouse Band) have also been transferred to the 2021/22 season; patrons who purchased tickets have already been moved into the same seats for the shows’ new dates.
Ticketholders who previously purchased tickets for the upcoming season will be sent instructions via mail and email which will enable them to decide how best to allocate their purchases; options include making a difference by donating the value of their tickets to the “Stand By Us” campaign for a tax-deductible donation, along with having their names added to a permanent honorary naming wall in the in the Theatre’s lobby, access to an exclusive preview tour prior to the Theatre’s Grand Reopening and locking in season ticket prices for their tickets the following year at the 2020/21 price.
Other options include rolling over season tickets to the following season while retaining current seats and corresponding performance times/days or receiving a house credit for the value of the tickets to be used for future season shows at the Theatre. Patrons may visit www.jupitertheatre.org for a list of frequently asked questions and to view a video of the exciting expansion plans.
About the Maltz Jupiter Theatre
The not-for-profit Maltz Jupiter Theatre has become one of Florida’s preeminent professional theatres, committed to production and education through its collaborations with local and national artists. Currently the state’s largest award-winning regional theatre, the Theatre draws 100,000 people annually, serves a subscription base of more than 8,250 and has world-class classroom facilities in support of its Goldner Conservatory of Performing Arts, which serves hundreds of youth and adults. The Theatre is a member of the prestigious League of Resident Theatres. For more information about the Theatre and Conservatory, visit www.jupitertheatre.org.