The college has an Atlanta campus on Peachtree Street in Midtown, and the playhouse is located at the corner of 14th and Juniper streets.
The expansion will support SCAD’s higher education mission and growing enrollment, and will particularly complement its internationally renowned master of arts and master of fine arts film and television degree programs, which debuted in Atlanta this past fall.
This new academic facility advances SCAD’s legacy of urban stewardship in Atlanta. The university’s previous revitalization projects include the award-winning historic Peters House and the former WXIA television studio. The purchase of the playhouse continues the college’s partnership with the center. SCAD’s 84,000-square-foot student residence hall is located on the Woodruff’s grounds. The 150-bed facility also includes SCAD’s professionally equipped sculpture studio.
Proceeds from the sale after expenses will be used by the center to invest in the arts in Atlanta in a variety of ways. First, the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta will receive $1 million from the Woodruff following the sale of the playhouse. The foundation will create and steward a new fund serving performing arts organizations with a focus on theater and dance companies, reflecting the types of organizations that historically performed at the playhouse. The intent of this new fund, to be rolled out in late 2014, is to provide financial grants to nonprofit performing arts organizations and/or performance venues to help offset costs incurred to rent performance spaces.
The remaining proceeds will be used by the center to design programs with local artists across multiple artistic disciplines. An example is the recently launched Artists’ Lab, a program of the Woodruff’s Alliance Theatre. The Artists’ Lab project was created to encourage collaboration between Atlanta artists in developing new work. In its inaugural year in 2013, it attracted more than 60 proposals from 200 artists looking to tap into the creative resources and artistic talent at the Alliance as well as to capitalize upon financial and facility support. Other work to be supported by this funding will be determined in the future by center leadership.
The playhouse was gifted to the Woodruff in 1991 when prior owners faced financial issues. The property, which houses three theaters of different sizes, has been leased periodically by various organizations in recent years, but not on a continuing basis.
“Using the proceeds of this agreement in this way speaks directly to the mission of the Woodruff Arts Center and is consistent with the original intent of the gift of the property,” center President and CEO Virginia Hepner said. “It’s good stewardship of a community asset and the right thing to do for the arts.
“It’s an added bonus that the Playhouse will become part of SCAD, already a great partner with the Woodruff Arts Center and a key contributor to the vibrant arts and creative community in Midtown. We’re delighted to see the 14th Street Playhouse pass into the college’s capable hands.”
Said SCAD President and co-founder Paula Wallace, “SCAD and the Woodruff Arts Center are mainstays of the Atlanta arts community, and we are proud to create the next chapter in the story of the 14th Street Playhouse, which will benefit SCAD students and Atlantans for decades to come. Atlanta’s metropolitan environment is home to top networks within the ninth largest television market in the U.S., and expanding SCAD’s footprint in Midtown Atlanta enhances our ability to connect students with the audiences and industry experts that will help to realize graduates’ creative careers.”
Foundation President Alicia Philipp said, “The Community Foundation has been invested in, and committed to, strengthening the region’s arts organizations for 20 years. I thank the Woodruff Arts Center for this opportunity to create a new fund and grant program that will enable us to help performing arts organizations increase their financial capacity to perform a wide range of work in a variety of venues throughout our 23-county metro Atlanta region. I hope this will help provide increased access to our region’s great arts community to new audiences in new places.”
The Woodruff and SCAD are accommodating organizations that have previously confirmed events at the playhouse.