September 24, 1996
Bell Atlantic Pledges $13 Million Toward Creation of
World-Class Performing Arts Center in Philadelphia
City and State Announce New Non-Profit Group to
Develop Complex on Avenue of the Arts
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - Governor Tom Ridge and Mayor Edward
joined Raymond W.
Smith, chairman and CEO of Bell Atlantic Corp.,
earlier today to announce a $13 million grant from Bell Atlantic to
the newly created Regional Performing Arts Center.
This two-building complex will be located on Philadelphia's Avenue of
the Arts, and will consist of a new building to be constructed at
Broad and Spruce Streets to include a new Concert Hall and Adaptable
Theater, and the existing Academy of Music just two blocks away.
The Regional Performing Arts Center, a $200 million world-class arts
center project, will be home to six resident companies: The
Philadelphia Orchestra, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Ballet, Concerto Soloists, Philadanco, Chamber Music Society, plus
popular events, and Broadway theater.
"Bell Atlantic has demonstrated a fine example of a public-private
partnership. In addition, the Commonwealth's $43.4 million pledge to
this project is steadfast. As we said in the Governor's Sports and
Exposition Facilities Task Force Report, it's important from an
economic development standpoint to contribute to facilities which
generate broad audience participation. It is our belief that a
regional performing arts center of this magnitude will expand these
opportunities for the greater Philadelphia region," said Governor
"We are grateful to Bell Atlantic for helping our region fulfill
Avenue of the Arts dream," stated Mayor Rendell. "This
complex will clearly be the centerpiece of the Avenue of the Arts.
And the time is now to capitalize on this momentum to put Philadelphia
squarely on the map with other first-tier, world-class cultural
Mayor Rendell also noted that the new regional performing arts center
replaces the former Orchestra Hall plan.
"Philadelphia has traditionally been a leader in the arts, and that
has been one of the constant reasons that this has been a great city
to live in and to visit," said Bell Atlantic's Ray Smith. "We
making this commitment because we believe this splendid new performing
arts center will be the centerpiece in guaranteeing the vitality of
Center City well into the 21st century."
Regional Performing Arts Center, Inc. will develop, construct and
manage the project. The new Concert Hall will be a 2,500-seat,
state-of-the-art facility for the live performance, broadcasting and
recording of symphonic music, and the new home of the Philadelphia
Orchestra and other performing arts groups. The Adaptable Theater
will be for the performance of music, dance, drama and music theater,
and the new home of Concerto Soloists, Philadanco, and the Chamber
Music Society. It will have the ability to adapt from 500 to 1,200
seats to accommodate different performances. The 2,900-seat Academy
of Music will be the principal home to the Pennsylvania Ballet and the
Opera Company of Philadelphia. It will also allow for more Broadway
productions and touring companies.
Combined attendance for the performing arts facilities in the first
year is conservatively estimated at one million. Utilization in the
first year is similarly estimated at 72% capacity.
"This is a management concept that has precedent in other cities, is
supported by The Philadelphia Orchestra Association, and that will
have a significant impact on the Avenue of the Arts and the region,"
stated Samuel A. McCullough, chairman of the new Regional Performing
Arts Center, Inc., and Philadelphia Orchestra board member. "The
management entity is an independent, not-for-profit to be governed by
a board of directors with a strong business and community focus along
with representatives from the performing arts groups and the greater
community. It will remove the burden and risk of
real estate management from the performing arts groups and allow them
to concentrate on their core activity - their artistic and creative
Developer Willard Rouse, who serves on the working group, agreed.
Regional Performing Arts Center will be the most important structure
built in the City of Philadelphia as we enter the 21st century,"
Rouse. "It will not only be the center of the Avenue of the Arts,
also the center of cultural and performing arts for Pennsylvania, New
Jersey and Delaware. Certainly, it will be the topping off of
Philadelphia's position as a premier destination city, and it will
facilitate the ongoing economic impact of the region's premier cultural
district, the city and the state at large."
The Regional Performing Arts Center will be the latest addition on
Philadelphia's Avenue of the Arts, a major economic and cultural
development project which includes the construction and renovation of
16 performance visual and educational arts facilities along north and
south Broad Street.