Dec 12, 2013
08:06 AMArts & Entertainment
Historic Shubert Theater in New Haven Has Ambitious New Owner
Arnold Gold/New Haven Register
Shubert Theater Executive Director John Fisher (left) and New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, Jr., feed each other cake after a quit claim deed was signed transferring ownership of the Shubert Theater to the Connecticut Association for the Performing Arts in the lobby of the Shubert Theater in New Haven on 12/11/2013.
The curtains closed on the New Haven's run in show business Wednesday, but the lights remained on at the Shubert Theater as it celebrated its 99th anniversary and a new owner.
City officials celebrated the anniversary alongside the new owner, the Connecticut Association for the Performing Arts, with the signing of the last piece of paperwork in the $1 sale of the theater. The Board of Aldermen approved the sale to the nonprofit group in November after acknowledging CAPAs work in managing the Shubert for more than 12 years.
“Places like this are important in terms of maintaining a sense of who we are, what we are about, why we are different and why we’re going to be successful,” Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said.
DeStefano said the theater has long been part of the city’s history and is one of the places, along with spots such as East Rock and West Rock, people associate with the city.
The Shubert first opened in New Haven on Dec. 11, 1914 with tickets priced between 25 cents and $1.50. Since then the theater has hosted more than 600 pre-Broadway tryouts and more than 350 premieres, about 300 of which were world premieres. After closings its doors in 1976 and facing possible destruction, the Shubert was saved by the community and reopened under the city’s ownership in 1983.
In 2001 CAPA began managing the theater, as part of the management agreement the city paid an annual operating cost for the Shubert of about $249,000. With this sale, the city will not have any financial obligations to the facility after 10 years.
Shubert Executive Director John Fisher said he anticipates having a “continued partnership with the city” even though ownership is changing. He said he is “very proud” of the theater’s partnerships with the city, the community, and schools such as Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School, and plans to continue and deepen those partnerships.
In addition to performances and partnerships with the community, Fisher said another cornerstone of the theater’s mission is to “provide extensive economic impact” on the city. In addition to ticket sales, the theater generates revenue from parking meters, hotels and restaurants.
“If we’re having 20,000 people down here for Jersey Boys for two weeks, that’s a lot of people that are going to be eating and shopping,” he said.
An economic impact study by Quinnipiac University credited the theater with making a $20 million annual impact, Fisher said.