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Oak View Group to manage historic Plaza Theatre in Palm Springs

The Palm Springs Plaza Theatre Foundation announced that Oak View Group (OVG), the owners and operators of Acrisure Arena, has entered into a partnership agreement in which OVG will provide day-to-day management of the historic theatre and secure programming and new sponsorship opportunities.

“All of us at Oak View Group are thrilled to partner with the Plaza Theatre Foundation and its dedicated group of Board of Directors. We look forward to bringing the full breadth and scope of OVG to the table to make this City of Palm Springs asset shine and become a huge community and cultural asset in downtown Palm Springs,” said John Bolton, Senior Vice President, Oak View Group.

Construction on the theatre will commence in March 2024 and is anticipated to be completed in Fall 2025.

The foundation said during the pre-opening period of the theatre restoration, OVG will work with the Foundation to make recommendations about the design, develop and recommend a proposed inventory including items relating to food and beverage services, create a food and beverage budget and menu concepts, and hire and train staff. 

After the theatre opens, OVG will manage all aspects of the theatre, including booking and promoting events at the theatre, including the highest quality concerts, chamber orchestra performances, film festivals, community meetings, conventions, cabaret performances, booked acts, lectures, music festivals, ideas festivals, children’s programming, charity and fundraising events, and other theater performances and events. They will also pursue and secure corporate sponsorship to further support the Theatre. 

“Oak View Group is internationally admired for their management of significant sporting, convention, arts, and entertainment venues,” said Foundation President J.R. Roberts. “We are delighted to have this strong community partner further commit to working with us to provide the expertise that this theatre needs to be a successful economic force in Palm Springs. We are especially thrilled to be working with Palm Springs resident and Oak View Group senior vice president John Bolton on this exciting collaboration. We are delighted that John has agreed to join our hard-working board of directors.” 

The agreement provides the City of Palm Springs with a total of 21 days annually to offer public programming at the discretion of the City Council. This programming would include the annual State of the City address, cultural and civic programs, and more. 

“This agreement between the City, the Palm Springs Plaza Theatre Foundation, and the Oak View Group is an economic game-changer for the Palm Springs destination,” said Scott Stiles, Palm Springs City Manager. “The restoration of the historic Plaza Theatre is a major milestone in the Downtown Revitalization Plan and will bring the world’s best artists and culture to our revitalized downtown. The City of Palm Springs and the Plaza Theatre Foundation offer our sincere thanks to the Oak View Group for their investment in this historic theatre which is now primed to become an arts and culture mecca for residents and visitors for generations to come.”

“Last year, Oakview Group committed to an unprecedented donation of $1 million to the restoration of the Plaza Theatre,” said Kevin J. Corcoran, Vice President of the Plaza Theatre Foundation. “We have been impressed with the launch of the Acrisure Arena and the programming, sponsorship, and management expertise they have brought to the very successful first year of operation. We are deeply grateful that they will generously waive all management fees, which is another example of their continuing generosity and commitment to our success. We could not ask for a more skilled and committed partner.”

The Foundation is continuing to raise funds to fully restore the Plaza Theatre, one of the most iconic venues in Palm Springs.

The Foundation has already raised approximately $16M but must raise at least $10M more to cover the construction costs and contingencies plus startup expenses.

Officials said these needed funds will help restore the building to its original splendor and update it to meet the access, technology, and equity needs of today and tomorrow. The Foundation is accepting donations, including naming opportunities that are still available, including a special theatre naming option for a single $10 million donor.

When restored, officials said the Plaza Theatre will be a place for the entire community to come together and utilize it as an affordable community venue showcasing diverse programming for all people, local youth organizations, promoting multicultural programming in film, music, live theater, education, comedy, and entertainment for all.

It will also support and serve nonprofit organizations such as the Palm Springs International Film Festival, ONE-PS, Modernism Week, and many others. 

The Plaza Theatre opened in Palm Springs in 1936. It has hosted many film premieres and screenings as well as serving as the venue for nationally broadcast radio theatre programs and other performances by Bing Crosby, Amos ‘n’ Andy, Jack Benny, Bob Hope, and Frank Sinatra, among many others.

In its later years, the theater was home to the critically acclaimed and revered “The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies.”

It was designated as a Class 1 Historic Site in 1991. This designation prohibits any outward structural changes that do not adhere to the original Depression-era design, according to the foundation.

After several decades in use, the building deteriorated, forcing its closure in 2015. The City of Palm Springs acquired the building that same year with the condition to maintain its operation as a performing arts venue.

City leaders announced plans to renovate the historic theatre in 2019.

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