In 2010, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA) embarked on a $57 million renovation of the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex. The project was broken into three phases, the second of which required the DCPA to embark on its first-ever capital campaign. “A Grander Opening” launched on June 5, 2018 with a goal of $17 million.
Today, the DCPA is proud to announce that the “Grander Opening” goal has been met.
“I was fortunate enough to be in the very first audience when the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex opened in 1979,” said DCPA Chairman Martin Semple. “Our founder and my friend, Don Seawell, would be exceedingly pleased to see the transformation of our lobby and theatres. He originally stated that this building was a ‘gift to the city of Denver.’ Now, through significant ADA upgrades, gender-neutral bathrooms and one central, welcoming lobby, more people will be able to utilize and enjoy these facilities than ever before.”
“The support of Mayor Hancock, City Council and Denver voters was pivotal to the success of this extraordinary achievement,” said DCPA President & CEO Janice Sinden. “Through the Better Denver, Elevate Denver and RISE bond funds, our community invested $31.1 million in the future of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts ensuring that theatre will remain a vibrant contributor to the economic and cultural enrichment of downtown Denver.”
“We are extremely grateful to the individuals, foundations and businesses that made a contribution to ‘A Grander Opening’,” said Capital Campaign Chairman Hassan Salem. “We received 351 total gifts including six bequests and 320 seats named to honor loved ones. This response — especially through a time of uncertainty — was nothing short of remarkable.”
The DCPA hired Semple Brown Design to plan the renovations, which honored the vision of the original design team: Pritzker Prize-winning architect Kevin Roche of Roche Dinkeloo and Associates; theatrical scenic and lighting designer Jo Melziener; Gordon Davidson, Artistic Director of LA’s Mark Taper Forum, and DCPA founder Donald Seawell. Turner Construction was awarded the contract to bring the designs to fruition.
PHASE 1 ($13 million)
Phase 1 (2010-2017) included reduction of the DCPA’s physical footprint, IT server room relocation, renovation of artist housing, infrastructure and energy improvements, and renovation of the Dorota & Kevin Kilstrom Theatre (formerly Space). The theatre improvements made it fully ADA compliant, provided essential life/safety upgrades, added restrooms including a gender-neutral facility, overhauled AV systems and provided a flexible performance space.
Phase 1 cost $13 million, of which $9 million was awarded through the Better Denver Bond program and $4 million was paid by the DCPA.
PHASE 2 ($41 million)
The second phase began in 2018 and continued when venues were forced to close. The building reopened in June 2021 for the DCPA’s signature fundraiser, Saturday Night Alive. Performances resumed in fall 2021 and audiences were able to experience the improvements first-hand at the DCPA Theatre Company’s annual production of A Christmas Carol.
These improvements included a complete rebuild of the Marvin & Judi Wolf Theatre (formerly Stage) and William Dean Singleton Theatre (formerly Ricketson), including fire/life safety upgrades, addition of flexible seating to make the spaces more versatile, improved sightlines and implementation of state-of-the-art technology.
The renovation also allowed the DCPA to expand ADA accessibility for patrons, cast and crew members including the addition of three elevators to provide greater access to all seating, theatres and backstage areas. Additionally, accessible and companion seating was expanded and upgrades were made to assistive listening and audio description systems.
Finally, backstage and support areas were renovated, energy efficiency was improved, gender-neutral restrooms for audiences and crew were added, and the entrance to the Singleton Theatre was relocated so that audiences can enter one central lobby to access all theatres.
Phase 2 cost $41 million of which $19 million was awarded through the Elevate Denver Bond Program, $5 million was paid by the DCPA and Helen G. Bonfils Foundation, and $17 million was raised through “A Grander Opening” capital campaign. This campaign represents $8 million in contributions from the DCPA Board of Trustees including four lead gifts from Marvin & Judi Wolf, Dorota & Kevin Kilstrom, William Dean Singleton and Robert & Judi Newman, who renamed the DCPA’s theatre for students in honor of the DCPA’s late president Randy Weeks.
PHASE 3 ($3.1 million)
The final phase will begin in 2023 and will complete fire/life safety issues in the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex, namely in The Jones Theatre.
Phase 3 will cost $3.1 million, which was awarded to the DCPA by the RISE Bond program.
The renovation was made possible thanks to the incredible support of the DCPA, Semple Brown Design, Turner Construction and CCS Fundraising:
- Martin Semple, Chairman of the Board, DCPA
- Hassan Salem, Chairman-elect of the Board or Trustees, DCPA; Chair of “A Grander Opening” and National Head of Commercial Banking at U.S. Bank
- William Dean Singleton, Secretary/Treasurer of the Board of Trustees, DCPA; Honorary Co-Chair of “A Grander Opening” and President of the Helen G. Bonfils Foundation
- Judi Wolf, Board of Trustees, DCPA; Honorary Co-Chair of “A Grander Opening”
- Janice Sinden, President & CEO of the DCPA
- Gretchen Hollrah, COO of the DCPA
- Jamie Clements, Vice President of Development, DCPA
- Chris Coleman, Artistic Director, DCPA Theatre Company
- Lisa Roebuck, Vice President of IT, DCPA
- Jeff Gifford, Director of Production & Construction Project Management, DCPA
- Erin Walker, Senior Director of Development, DCPA
- Marc Ravenhill, Associate Director of Development, DCPA
- Suzanne Yoe, Director of Content & Communications, DCPA
- Chris Wineman, Principal, Semple Brown Design
- Aaron Wiebelhaus, Vice President & General Manager, Turner Construction
- Rebecca Kalinowsky, Project Executive, Turner Construction
- Hannah Yaritz, CCS Fundraising
- Julie Voorhees, former Capital Campaign Director, DCPA
- Vicky Miles, former CFO, DCPA
- Clay Courter, former Vice President of Facilities, DCPA
- Shelly Thompson, former Vice President of Development, DCPA
- Yovani Pina, former Vice President of IT, DCPA
For a full list of upcoming performances in the Wolf, Kilstrom and Singleton theatres, visit denvercenter.org.