The Boston Conservatory Announces Expansion and Renovation of Theater Building on Hemenway Street

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The Boston Conservatory, an internationally renowned college offering degrees in music, dance and musical theater, announces plans to expand and renovate its theater building at 31 Hemenway Street. Major Fundraising Effort Underway at Performing Arts College in Fenway Neighborhood of Boston

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The Boston Conservatory, an internationally renowned college offering degrees in music, dance and musical theater, announces plans to expand and renovate its theater building at 31 Hemenway Street. The "Hemenway Project" will provide much needed additional rehearsal and performance space for the growing school, as well as a modernized and improved patron experience with new air conditioning and handicapped accessibility, elements currently absent from the theater building that was originally constructed in 1948.

Boston Conservatory President Richard Ortner explains, "We have a great opportunity to transform this theater building and dramatically improve the learning and performing experience for our students, faculty and audiences. This project will also be a significant part of the Fenway Cultural District and a real gift to the city."

Working with Handel Architects, the Conservatory has developed and finalized architectural plans for the building which will include the following new elements:

  •     Two new large-volume dance studios
  •     A new theater studio which will double as a reception area for special events
  •     One new music rehearsal and performance space for large ensembles
  •     A new orchestra pit
  •     New theater seating
  •     Improved sight lines
  •     Improved wing space
  •     Handicapped accessibility
  •     New climate control
  •     Increased ceiling height, a new control booth, new theatrical lighting and rigging, and a host of acoustical refinements in the theater

Buoyed by a recent Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund grant of $675,000, The Conservatory plans to begin construction in the summer of 2009. The project involves both renovation and new construction, and is expected to take approximately 16 months with the new facility available for use during the 2010-2011 Conservatory term.

According to Curtis Kemeny, CEO of Boston Residential Group and Vice Chair of the Conservatory's board of trustees, "This project is a major step forward for the Conservatory, as both a competitive training ground for students and a cultural arts destination for Bostonians. We have just completed a significant planning process and, pending successful fundraising and financing efforts, we will be able to proceed with the project."

Fundraising Progress
The Hemenway Project--which marks the first major facilities initiative undertaken by the school in 50 years--will be supported in part by the Conservatory's first capital campaign. The campaign goal is $16 million, with $12 million allocated to the Hemenway Project. The remainder will go to scholarships and the endowment. To date, the Conservatory has raised $7 million.

Adds Ortner, "In this difficult economy, the Conservatory is fortunate to have support from 100% of our Trustees,, as well as significant 6-figure pledges from non-board members. Despite the volatile financial conditions around us, we are confident that we can achieve our goals for the project. The Conservatory currently has no long-term debt, we own all of our real estate free and clear and both enrollment and fundraising have been growing steadily for the past decade. There is no question that The Boston Conservatory is now one of the nation's premiere professional training grounds for the performing arts."

Temporary Relocation
The existing theater building houses classrooms and production facilities, including the 340-seat mainstage theater that hosts approximately 30 free and low-cost ticket performance events each year. With the theater renovation--expected to last 16 months--these classes and performances will be temporarily relocated to other schools, theaters and performances spaces in the Boston area.

"It is of paramount importance that we maintain the integrity of our programs for students during the project. We are currently exploring other venues in the region, including both well-known and unconventional locations," says Ortner, adding, "This provides a unique opportunity to expose our students to new venues while introducing new audiences to the professional-caliber work of our talented students."        

Halley Shefler, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, adds, "We intend to continue the recent success of the Conservatory's recruitment efforts. The Boston Conservatory has become a destination college for serious young performing artists by emphasizing the intense, structured nature of our curriculum, an extraordinary faculty, small class sizes, individualized attention and exceptional performance opportunities across all three disciplines."

Impact to Fenway Neighborhood
Working closely with the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA), The Boston Conservatory has held a series of meetings informing neighbors of the specific building plans and impact to the neighborhood.

"We know that the early stages of construction will present challenges to our neighborhood, but we are committed to working closely with our neighbors during the process to ensure the best possible outcomes for all," says Ortner.

About The Boston Conservatory
The Boston Conservatory trains exceptional young performing artists for careers that enrich and transform the human experience. Known for its intimate and supportive multi-disciplinary environment, The Boston Conservatory offers fully accredited graduate and undergraduate programs in music, dance and theater, and presents more than 200 performances each year by students, faculty and guest artists. Since its founding in 1867, The Boston Conservatory has shared its talent and creativity with the city of Boston, the region and the nation, and continues to grow today as a vibrant community of artists and educators. For more information, visit

Note: Digital images of the building renderings are available at


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