The Shubert Theater has held a special place in downtown New Haven history for the last 99 years and it is now beginning a new chapter.
The Connecticut Association for the Performing Arts has been operating the theater for the city since 2001 and it officially took over ownership today.
“Places like this are important in maintaining the sense in who we are, what we're about, why we're different and why we're going to be successful. That's why this theater is important to this community,” New Haven Mayor John DeStefano said.
The Shubert Theater in New Haven opened two years after the Shubert in New York City and its illustrious history includes hosting the stage debut of the “Sound of Music.”
The big benefit to transferring ownership is that New Haven taxpayers will no longer have to pay for the Shubert. Instead, it will be run by a private entity.
“The city owning the building had all the responsibility for all the capital costs, all the renovations that need to be done to the theater. When you think about a 100-year-old building, what needs to be done to keep that up,” said Kevin Burke, chairman of the CAPA board of directors.
The transfer will save the city $5.5 million over the next 10 years, and it's also beneficial for the Shubert.
“We're allowed to raise fundraising dollars that the city really couldn't. We can go out to foundations across the country that support historic buildings. We can go for historic tax credits,” Burke said.
The theater already has plans for renovations that would enhance the space, bring in more patrons and benefit businesses in downtown New Haven.
“(T)hey're having well over 150 shows every year, bringing dining customers, hotel customers -- between the staff of the Shubert, as well as the actors who are playing in the shows, really brings a lot of business into downtown,” said Doug Hausladen, alderman for Ward 7.