Orlando Philharmonic Begins Plaza Live Renovations

(Orlando, FL – January 28, 2015)

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This week, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra announced that it is beginning its first stage of renovations to The Plaza Live Theatre (425 N. Bumby Ave, Orlando), the building that will become the orchestra’s future home.

At a kick-off celebration Tuesday night, David Schillhammer announced the orchestra has already raised $3,492,546 toward renovations to the building. This is part of $8.25 million raised toward the Philharmonic’s “20/20 Vision” campaign — a 5-year, $20 million capital campaign announced in the orchestra’s 2012-2013, 20th anniversary season to raise $6 million for the endowment, $8 million for general operations and $6 million toward the Plaza Live renovations. In addition, $2,026,990 has been contributed in-kind to the renovation.

The first stage of renovations, a 6-month project estimated at $2.5 million, will transform the smaller of the building’s two existing theaters into an acoustically sound rehearsal hall and multi-use performance space. The orchestra is also expanding the building to include a new box office, administrative offices, dressing rooms and sheet music library. The Plaza Live will remain open for events throughout the renovations, and the Philharmonic plans to move its operations into The Plaza Live later this year.

Schillhammer says renovations to the building’s lobby, exterior and main theater will come next.

“Our first priority is to renovate the rehearsal hall and get the organization moved in,” he said. “That will reduce our rental expenses, so we can reach our fundraising goals more quickly, and complete the second stage of renovations.”

The budget and timeline for the second stage of renovations is still being finalized. At Tuesday’s event, Marc Hagle of Tricor International Corporation unveiled renderings and floor plans for the project.

Recent gifts to the Plaza Live renovation project include $100,000 from Orlando Philharmonic Board Member Dr. Mary Palmer, and a $70,000 matching gift from the Elizabeth Morse Genius Foundation, which has been matched, including many gifts made in memory of longtime Orlando Philharmonic supporter Kenneth F. Murrah, who passed away in December.

The orchestra is anticipating additional gifts this season. At Tuesday’s event, Board President Michael Elsberry and his wife, Sally Blackmun, announced a $50,000 gift toward naming the $250,000 Mayor Linda Chapin Music Library. The Friends of the Orlando Philharmonic also announced a $100,000 challenge to name the Plaza’s lobby bar, with a $4500 lead gift from Ron & Carrie Patterson. When the remaining money is raised, these spaces will be added to the growing list of named spaces in the building – including The Bryce L. West Sponsor Room, the Santos/Dantin Box Office and the Kenneth & Ann Hicks Murrah Lobby—and will bring the total raised toward the 20/20 Vision campaign to $8.5 million.

In addition, Schillhammer and Ann Hicks Murrah announced a legacy endowment gift from the Kenneth and Ann Hicks Murrah Endowment Fund, in the amount of $450,000, held at the Central Florida Foundation. These funds will benefit the Orlando Philharmonic in perpetuity, and will endow the Principal Timpani Chair, currently held by Carl Rendek.

“We are so proud to be moving forward on the first stage of this project,” said Schillhammer. “We are honored by the support from our board and the community, and look forward to creating a home for the orchestra, and live music of all kinds.”

The Philharmonic purchased The Plaza Live Theatre building and business in August 2013 for $3.4 million, and has since moved its chamber music and chamber orchestra series to the new location, and experienced record-breaking sales for those concerts. The Plaza Live continues to present rock, jazz, comedy and other live events under the operation of the Orlando Philharmonic.

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Now in its 22nd season, the Orlando Philharmonic is Central Florida’s resident professional orchestra, comprised of accomplished musicians recruited from around the world. The Philharmonic inspires audiences with over 125 musical experiences annually, ranging from classical and chamber music concerts to pops performances, staged opera productions, outdoor concerts and education programs for all ages. Committed to building a sustainable future for classical music, the Philharmonic holds an endowment of over $4 million, and has maintained a balanced budget every year of its existence. Learn more at | @OrlandoPhilOrch |

The Plaza Live was originally built as Orlando’s first multi-screen movie theatre in 1963. After years of passing between owners, it was given new life in the late 2000s when it was transformed into a concert venue.  The Plaza Live currently hosts more than 135 rock, jazz, comedy, and contemporary music events annually, selling over 65,000 tickets per year. In 2010, it was ranked by Pollstar as one of the Top 100 Worldwide Club Venues. | @PlazaLiveOrl |