Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome today announced that the Baton Rouge Performing Arts Theater will receive an $18.1 million refurbishment, and once again be the shining home for the best of arts in the Capital Region.

The theater, which currently seats just under 2,000 patrons, was originally built in 1977, and has had very little done to upgrade it since. The new design will slightly reduce the capacity, but will greatly improve the overall theater experience with expanded lobby, guest services, and improved seats and aisles. The theater is owned by the City of Baton Rouge and managed by SMG.

“The theater will be a beautiful and exciting venue for patrons of all ages to enjoy a wide variety of live entertainment,” said Mayor-President Broome. “This adds to our growing, dynamic arts portfolio here in Baton Rouge.”

In December of 2015, the City published a Request for Proposals for the design of the theater refurbishments. Last year the City awarded the Architectural contract to Post Architects. After a number of meetings with key stakeholders to review design options, Mayor Broome agreed to the current design scope. “The theater will be a beautiful and exciting home for our patrons to enjoy our Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, The Baton Rouge Ballet, and all the great Broadway shows and concerts that play here” said Mayor Broome.

The Performing Arts Theater hosts approximately 175 event days each year, and is home for the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, The Baton Rouge Ballet, The Baton Rouge Broadway Series, along with a number of dance schools and concerts. “The new design of the theater focusses on improving the patron experiences while maintaining the warm sound qualities that the theater is famous for”, said Architect Skipper Post, who’s firm has teamed up with HMS Architects to design the improvements to the theater.

“It’s been years in development. We are so excited to finally share these plans with our patrons that will greatly improve the guest services in the theater”, said General Manager Michael Day. “The exterior design and lighting will reflect the theme or mood of the shows each night, and the interior will allow our guests to get in and out of their seats with ease”, Day added. The new design will include a number of VIP boxes with larger seats and additional amenities, VIP Lounges, expanded and improved ADA access and seating, additional isles and cross isle for ease of getting into and out of the seating area, and expanded bathrooms and concessions. Day added that the VIP Boxes will have drink service staff at select shows.

“The upcoming renovations to Baton Rouge’s Theater for the Performing Arts represent one of the most significant investments to our city’s cultural life we have ever seen, said Timothy Muffitt, Music Director, Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra. Muffitt went on to say, “The enhancements to food and beverage services, cabaret-style seating, new spaces for receptions and special events, and even box seating are outstanding. This renovation is ultimately a game-changer in how we will appreciate live music in our city for generations to come.”

The design work should be completed the first quarter of next year, with General Contractor bids received in early spring of next year, and construction beginning mid-year. The Theater is expected to re-open sometime late 2019 or very early 2020.

Contributed Report