Salt Lake County and Ballet West have trumpeted the imminent renovation of Capitol Theatre and construction of the new Jessie Eccles Quinney Center for Dance ever since announcing those plans in October 2010.
Now, 32 months after that announcement, the county and its partner dance company held an open house on Wednesday at Salt Lake City's downtown Capitol Theatre to showcase those plans once more.
Once the curtain closes on the upcoming touring Broadway musical "Jersey Boys," playing June 4-16 at the theater, construction and renovation will commence June 28.
For Salt Lake City's fans of ballet, opera and other assorted performing arts, that means more comfortable seating with better sightlines, a raised stage and updated heating and air conditioning. With the new Center for Dance adjoining the theater's west wall, it also means a lobby extended into the foyer, new flooring, ticket and concession stands and, most important for intermission, 30 new toilets. The new construction and renovation overhaul give Ballet West an even bigger imprint on a facility it's long called home, but with even more cohesion, given extra room that lets the dance company house its academy on site, rather than dispersed throughout the Salt Lake Valley.
"[Capitol Theatre] is just as much home as it's always been, but with these changes it will become even more conducive to larger audiences for ballet, the opera and anyone else using it," said Ballet West artistic director Adam Sklute, present as Wednesday's open house.
The comprehensive renovation and new construction should be complete by Dec. 1, when Ballet West opens its annual performance of "The Nutcracker."
The theater facility update has played second fiddle to plans for the larger, more expensive and more controversial Utah Performing Arts Center. The 2,500-seat, $116 million project will be just around the corner on Main Street. Once complete, the new center and the updated Capitol Theatre promise to remake and rebalance the city's entertainment offerings.
The $32 million Capitol Theatre upgrade suffered a setback last fall when it was announced that Ballet West and Salt Lake County hit a snag in securing millions in federal "new market tax credits" needed to fill the gap between money provided by the county, Ballet West and Salt Lake City. Thanks to congressional approval in the 2013 budget, those credits are now back "in the queue," said Cami Munk, communications manager for Salt Lake County Center for the Arts.
Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams said the joint upgrade and construction project between Ballet West and the county is evidence of a Salt Lake City population that's maturing and growing along with the arts. "Capitol Theatre will always be a centerpiece of arts performance in Salt Lake County," he said.
Salt Lake County purchased the lot for construction of the new Jessie Eccles Quinney Center for Dance for $2.4 million and is funding $8 million of the construction and renovation costs. Ballet West will be providing $10.5 million, Salt Lake City $2 million, with the remaining cost provided by the federal tax credits.
Sklute said Ballet West will move its administrative offices from Capitol Theatre during renovation and construction, but said the company has not decided where.