The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts Purchases Adjacent Building

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The Hanover Theatre is planning for more community outreach, space for public functions, office space and a ground-floor restaurant. The fundraising campaign is off to a strong start.

View of 551 Main St. from across the street.

View of 551 Main St. from across the street.

With a successful opening act to its credit, The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts opened the curtains on Act 2 yesterday, announcing it has acquired an adjacent building as part of its plan to facilitate future growth.

The theatre finalized the purchase today of a vacant, three-floor former office building with street-level retail space at 551 Main Street. The purchase and renovation of the building will be supported by a theatre fundraising effort. That campaign is off to a strong start, with initial contributions from The Hanover Insurance Group Foundation, individual benefactors, and local family foundations reaching $2 million.

Taking Important Steps Forward

“The acquisition of the building and our plans for the space represent transformative steps in the development of the theatre and the theatre district,” said Troy Siebels, president and chief executive officer of the theatre. “This effort is in keeping with several of our key mission points and strategic goals. It will support the ongoing revitalization of our downtown and theatre districts, help build sustainability through diverse revenue streams, and create access to the performing arts for young people who might otherwise not have the opportunity.”

Siebels said the theatre will work in partnership with the Worcester Business Development Corporation and contributors to the effort to thoughtfully develop the vacant building. “Our goal,” he said, “is to develop the theatre in ways that serve the greater community. We look forward to working with our charitable partners and others to bring even more vitality to Worcester’s downtown and theatre districts.”

Building a Stronger Theatre Environment

The acquisition and renovation of the building will enable the theatre to accommodate growth and to strengthen its ties to the community in several ways. First, the building will give the theatre more additional space for youth, education and outreach programs. These programs will include summer and school-year participation-based workshops, master classes to leverage the expertise of visiting performers, and expansion of its successful “adopt-a-school” partnership. Second, the building would provide for sought-after public function space. The theatre has had to turn away many groups wishing to host pre- and post-event receptions. Third, it will enable the theatre to create much-needed office space in the newly purchased building, making theatre operations more cohesive.

The theatre also plans to lease space on the ground floor to a restaurant. Siebels said the theatre is in negotiations with a local restaurateur, and several others have expressed interest in the space.    

Benefitting from Local Support

Siebels said the theatre’s leadership, staff and members are appreciative of the tremendous support they have received from those organizations and people that have come forward in the initial stages of the fundraising effort.

“We are very grateful to those who have answered our call for support,” he said. “These generous organizations and individuals are helping to create a first class theatre environment that enriches our community and its residents.”

The Hanover Insurance Group Foundation has made a $700,000 challenge grant to the fundraising effort, pledging to match future contributions from organizations and individuals. The Hanover will contribute one dollar as a match to every two dollars contributed, hoping to help attract an additional $1.4 million in funding. “We’re very proud to play a role in the continued growth and development of The Hanover Theatre,” said Frederick H. Eppinger, president and chief executive officer of The Hanover Insurance Group. “Our hope is that this incentive grant will encourage others to provide even more support to economic development efforts in the city and make high-quality performing arts more accessible.”    

Other key contributors to date include: McDonough Charitable Foundation ($500,000), The George Alden Trust ($350,000), The Stoddard Charitable Trust ($300,000), Jeanne Y. Curtis Charitable Trust ($100,000), and The Fred Harris Daniels Foundation ($50,000).

“While I haven’t been a Worcester resident per se for many, many years, I’m aware of the great work, terrific performances, central role and civic importance of The Hanover Theatre,” said Regan P. Remillard, a trustee of the Jeanne Y. Curtis Charitable Trust. “We are pleased this money will finalize the theatre’s ability to acquire the building and fit out the space. Our mother, Jeanne Curtis, was an enthusiastic participant in The Hanover Theatre’s programming and its impact on Worcester and we feel she would be very pleased to support the theatre in this fashion. We thank you for the opportunity.”

Building on a Successful Opening Act

The Hanover Theatre opened March 14, 2008 after a successful, broad-based community fundraising campaign and a $32 million historic renovation project to restore the then-vacant and dilapidated theatre. Since then, the theatre continues to draw over 180,000 patrons annually with world-class performances and headlining acts including Broadway hits (“Les Misérables,” “Mary Poppins,” “Jersey Boys”); comedians (Steve Martin, Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Cosby); musical acts (Neil Young, Aretha Franklin, John Legend, Diana Ross); and everything in between (“A Christmas Carol,” Maya Angelou, Rudy Giuliani, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre). Consistently ranked by POLLSTAR as one of the Top 50 Theatres in the World, the theatre has established its place as a world-class performing arts venue, acting as a catalyst for the economic development of downtown Worcester. For more information, visit Worcester Center for the Performing Arts, a registered not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, owns and operates The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts. All donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.

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Lisa Condit
The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts
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