Frequently Asked Questions about the Boston University Theatre
The Huntington Theatre Company is pleased to announce that we have reached an agreement-in-principle with the real estate developer who has purchased the BU Theatre complex. As a result the Huntington will remain in our mainstage home of over 3 decades.
About the Huntington:
The Huntington Theatre Company is Boston’s leading professional theatre, serving 200,000 audience members a year in our two venues – the BU Theatre on Huntington Avenue and the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA in the South End. The Calderwood Pavilion facility serves dozens of other companies each year, from SpeakEasy Stage to Company One. In total the Huntington employs over 400 staff members and artists each year, and generates more than $19 million annually in economic activity. Through our education programs, the Huntington also provides programs for more than 33,000 youth and community members, many of them from Boston’s under-resourced neighborhoods.
- In October 2015, Boston University and the Huntington Theatre Company announced that they would dissolve their 33-year partnership in June 2017, and BU put the BU Theatre complex for sale on the open market.
- A local development company, QMG Huntington LLC, led by John Matteson, purchased the BU Theatre complex in May 2016.
- The Huntington and the developer have now agreed:
- The Huntington will gain exclusive, long-term control of the historic theatre itself and the service wing to its west, which it plans to fully renovate at its own expense;
- The Huntington will expand its lobbies and other public spaces amenities into new shell and core space to be provided by QMG;
- QMG will develop the properties that now hold the Huntington’s production center, and the Huntington will relocate its scenic, paint, and prop shops to another location;
- These spaces are conveyed to the Huntington by QMG as a public service for the fee of $1.00.
- Many more details will emerge in the months to come as we move through the design and review process of this development, and in order to succeed the Huntington will have to embark on a major new capital fundraising campaign.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What does this mean for the Huntington?
The Huntington is thrilled to remain permanently at the BU Theatre, our mainstage home for the past 34 years. We now have the opportunity to renovate our beautiful theatre, expand our public space and our services to patrons, and continue to produce ambitious, large-scale works at this location in a way that enhances our services to audience members, young people, our neighborhood and the theatre community of Boston. Having exclusive, long-term control of our mainstage space gives us power over our own destiny, allows us to grow, and puts us in a position of strength, guaranteeing that we will continue to produce world-class theatre and serve the city of Boston for generations to come.
What impact will the Huntington remaining on Huntington Avenue have on the neighborhood and the community?
The Huntington has long been an anchor cultural institution of Huntington Avenue, the Avenue of the Arts. We are eager to convert our current mainstage theatre into a first-rate, modern venue that enlivens this stretch of Huntington Avenue on a year-round basis, contributing to the revitalization of the neighborhood much the way the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA in the South End did in 2004.
When will construction begin? When will the Huntington have a plan for the future?
We will work closely with the developer to establish the design and review process for the new development, and will announce a timeline and plan for construction as soon as it can be settled. No construction will begin before July 2017 and we hope to have an established timetable well before that time.
What will the new development and the theatre renovation look like? (Will the lobby be larger? Will there be enough restrooms?)
Many more details will emerge in the months to come as we move through the design and review process of this development. We expect the new development to be a residential building with storefronts, and to contain a distinctive and new entrance to our theatre. For the theatre itself, we plan to preserve the beauty of this historical building, while providing up-to-date amenities for our audiences and artists. And yes, our intention is to make sure there are plenty of restrooms and new lobby space for all of our patrons!
What will happen to the scenic, paint, and prop shops in the Huntington’s production department?
Our scenic, paint, and prop shops currently located next door to the theatre at 258 Huntington Avenue will be relocated to a production facility at a location to be determined. We are currently in the process of searching for and securing a new home for our talented artisans as they will need to move by June 2017.
What are the expected costs? When will a capital campaign begin?
The Huntington will need considerable funds to execute our plans for renovation and construction. We are in the early stages of planning for a capital campaign and will be working with our board and outside consultants to establish a timeline and objectives. A preliminary estimate is that we will need to raise between $60 million and $80 million to accomplish all of our goals.
How will these transitions impact Huntington artistic programming choices?
The Huntington is known for producing eclectic seasons of exciting new plays and classics made current, and we will continue to produce large-scale, ambitious works at the 890-seat BU Theatre and more intimate new plays and reimagined classics at the 370-seat Wimberly Theatre and the 200-seat Roberts Studio Theatre at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. Having control over our mainstage theatre on a year-round basis means that we can begin to explore additional programming to attract audiences throughout the year, and that we can partner with other organizations who are looking for theatre space.
Where will the Huntington produce during the 2016-2017 season?
As announced, the Huntington’s 2016-2017 season will include 4 shows at the BU Theatre on Huntington Avenue and 3 shows at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA in the South End as usual.
Where will the Huntington produce during the 2017-2018 season?
The Huntington is exploring several different scenarios for the 2017-2018 season that will combine productions at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA with productions at other venues. It is also possible that we will continue to produce at the BU Theatre for an additional year or a portion of the year depending on the construction project timeline.
What will the new theatre be called?
We don’t yet have a name for this new incarnation of the BU Theatre. We have internally been calling it “the New Huntington,” but please let us know if you are interested in making a naming gift to our capital campaign!
What is the Huntington Theatre Company’s relationship with Boston University?
Our partnership will continue with Boston University through June 30, 2017. The Huntington was founded by BU in 1982, thanks to the vision of President John Silber and Vice President Gerald Gross, and was separately incorporated as an independent non-profit in 1986. BU provided rent-free use of the BU Theatre complex and annual financial subsidies. Huntington artists and staff members have taught and mentored BU students, provided work opportunities for students throughout the organization, and provided audience and ticketing services. These services will continue through the 2016-2017 season.
Why did BU and the Huntington end their 33-year partnership?
After extensive discussions, BU and the Huntington decided to dissolve our partnership as it became clear that each organization had needs the partnership could no longer meet. BU plans to consolidate their theatre arts program on the Charles River campus.
Is the Huntington seeking other institutional partners?
The Huntington is open to exploring mission-based partnerships with arts organizations and other non-profits as we build a new program and financial model for the future.
Will the Huntington’s education programs change?
The Huntington will continue to serve over 33,000 students and community members throughout Greater Boston each year through our student matinee series, the August Wilson Monologue Competition, Poetry Out Loud, partnerships with Boston Public Schools, Codman Academy Public Charter School collaboration, Access Programming, and other community programs. We look forward to opportunities to expand our services as we look to the future.
What can patrons do to help?
The Huntington is extremely grateful for the vocal support and encouragement from our board, our patrons, and the Greater Boston community. You may show your support by continuing to attend Huntington productions and events or make a contribution at huntingtontheatre.org/donate. Thank you for your support!
What will my money support if I make a donation?
As always, your gift supports general operations or whichever onstage, education, or community programs you choose to designate. Huntington programs are all continuing as normal and still need your support. The Huntington is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization with a Charity Navigator Four-Star rating. Your contributions are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law.
Thank you for your continued support!