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Emerson Partners with Leading International Theater Producer, ATG, to Operate Colonial Theatre

In an email to the Emerson Community, President Lee Pelton announced an unprecedented partnership between the College and leading international producer of live theater, Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG), to operate the Emerson Colonial Theatre. ATG’s inaugural season at the Emerson Colonial Theatre is expected to begin in January 2018.

“This announcement comes after a long and thoughtful process, which was driven by clear objectives—to create a partnership that would ensure the long-term viability of the Emerson Colonial Theatre as a performing arts space, while meeting the needs of our campus community along with those of Boston’s performing arts organizations,” Pelton wrote.

The agreement with ATG, the world’s largest theatre company, and Emerson, establishes a partnership to program, renovate, and preserve the historic theater, provide fellowships and internship opportunities for Emerson students, underwrite theater arts programs for local youth, and support Boston’s arts community. Additionally, it includes actively exploring the availability of performance space for local arts organizations, including the Boston Lyric Opera (BLO).

“As we aspire to be the global hub for arts, communication, and liberal arts education, our new partnership with ATG will greatly enhance the experience and education of Emerson students in ways that are real, measureable, and long-lasting,” wrote Pelton.

Emerson and ATG will create an advisory board to guide the development of programming and business strategies for the theatre. The agreement will also establish an endowment to provide experiential learning and internship opportunities for Emerson students through four annual fellowships, which will also fund student participation in the Edinburgh International Festival, and an Ambassador Award program, which will provide an ATG mentorship program to two Emerson students annually.

The process to review proposals and identify a partnership to reanimate the Colonial was guided by the Emerson Colonial Steering Committee members: Jeff Greenhawt, chairman of the Board of Trustees; Steve Samuels, developer and trustee; Robert Friend, cultural arts technology marketing and sales consultant and trustee; Maureen Murphy, vice president for Administration and Finance; David Dower, vice president, Office of the Arts, and executive director, ArtsEmerson; and Anne Shaughnessy, assistant vice president, Office of the President and Board of Trustees. Christine Hughes, vice president and general counsel, offered additional insights, and Professor Melia Bensussen, chair of Emerson’s Performing Arts Department, advised on how the reopening the theatre could benefit Emerson faculty and students.

Pelton expressed his gratitude to the committee for their insight and counsel, as well as the performing arts communities for their ideas, perspectives, and encouragement, and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and his team for their continuous support and counsel throughout the process.

Emerson is widely recognized for reviving Boston’s once-dormant Theatre District and the adjacent downtown corridor, while preserving and reopening some of Boston’s most historically important buildings, creating a vibrant, inviting neighborhood within the city’s cultural landscape.

In the email, Pelton highlighted current projects underway including the College’s new residence hall at 2 Boylston Place and multipurpose Student Dining Center on Boylston Street, scheduled to open in Fall 2017, and repairs and renovations of the Little Building residence hall, scheduled to begin at the end of the spring semester, to be completed by Fall 2019.

Describing the benefits of this important partnership, Pelton wrote, “The reanimation of the Colonial Theatre, a beloved historic landmark, further adds to the vitality of our campus and the City of Boston.”

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