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St. Pete cultural landmark launches fundraising campaign

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  • | 10:00 a.m. October 28, 2023
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The Palladium theater of St. Petersburg College.
The Palladium theater of St. Petersburg College.
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The Palladium theater at St. Petersburg College unveiled its $10 million renovation campaign — "Strengthen. Elevate. Inspire." — during a 25th anniversary celebration on Wednesday.

Addressing the growing needs of Tampa Bay, the expansion will include a fully renovated mainstage theater and stage-door cabaret, according to theater officials. Groundbreaking is projected to begin in the summer of 2025 and be completed for the building's 100th anniversary in 2026, according to St. Petersburg College, which operates the theater as a department.

Paul Wilborn, Palladium executive director, says a challenge grant of $5 million was given from the Hough Family Foundation. The Hough family was instrumental in founding The Palladium and has been supportive over its 25 years, the college says.

"Our mission is to foster artistically and culturally diverse performing arts, educational and film programs that bring artists and audiences together in a first-class professional, affordable setting," says Wilborn in a news release. "Our building has been a landmark in St. Petersburg for almost 100 years. For the past 25 years, the Palladium has been a key element in Tampa Bay's performing arts ecology. This campaign grants us the opportunity to transform the Palladium into a world-class performing arts center."

The Palladium will be reimagined in consultation with Earl Swenson Associates, Akustics and Stages Consulting, the college says. Earl Swenson designed Nashville, Tennessee's Schermerhorn Symphony Center, among dozens of other performing arts centers. Akustics recently completed the state-of-the-art home for the New York Philharmonic in The David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center.

And Stages has worked nearby on the Arsht Center in Miami, as well as the Dr. Phillips Center and the Walt Disney Theatre in Orlando, the college says.

The centerpiece of the expansion is an 800-seat reconfigured theater, providing a "state-of-the-art dynamic viewing and listening experience for audiences," the college says. The renovation will include new seating, as the hall will be completely reconfigured for better sight lines and audio enjoyment, the college says.

"Donations are investments that will strengthen our role as an incubator for performing artists while at the same time preserving our history and strengthening our legacy," says Wilborn. "When the St. Pete Opera needed a performance space, we were there for them. When the Chamber Players, the Nutcracker Ballet, Beacon Dance, La Lucha jazz and hundreds of bands and performers needed a stage, we were there for them. Soon we will showcase them in a world-class performance space equipped for recording and live streaming."

The college president says the theater is a part of the school and the city's culture.

"St. Petersburg College has a long tradition of educating students in the arts, and The Palladium theater is an important part of the college’s history," says Tonjua Williams, college president. "Not only do we offer students a better future with a degree or certificate in the arts, but enriching our community is central to our mission."

The capital campaign will raise the necessary funds from private philanthropy and public sources, the college says, with "significant naming opportunities available for those who wish to manifest their support of The Palladium's transformation."


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