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Emerson College Reaches Agreement with the Ambassador Theatre Group to Operate Emerson Colonial Theatre

BOSTON, MA (January 9, 2017)—Emerson College has reached an agreement with the Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG), one of the leading international producers of live theater, to create a partnership which will bring first-class productions to the Emerson Colonial Theatre. As part of the partnership, Emerson and ATG have agreed to a long-term lease arrangement and to invest several million dollars in much-needed capital improvements at the historic theatre. In addition, ATG will provide fellowships and internship opportunities for Emerson students, underwrite theater arts programs for local youth, and will actively explore making performance space available for local arts organizations, including the Boston Lyric Opera (BLO). ATG is expected to open its inaugural Emerson Colonial Theatre season beginning January 2018.

Emerson College President Lee Pelton said “This is an unprecedented partnership between the world’s largest theatre company and Emerson, which aspires to be the global hub for arts, communication, and liberal arts education. We undertook a long and thoughtful process, with clear objectives, namely 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 Boston’s performing arts organizations along with those of our students and faculty. A reimagined theatre will animate the downtown area across from Boston Common and usher in a new and dynamic era in Boston arts and culture. This partnership enables us to achieve each of those objectives and do so with a fantastic partner.”

“We are grateful to Emerson College for its unparalleled investment in Boston’s Theatre District, and for its commitment to supporting the beautiful, historic Colonial Theatre,” said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “We welcome ATG to Boston, and thank them for their willingness to support the Boston Lyric Opera’s search for a new home, and to strengthen arts education programs at Emerson. The Colonial is critical to the growth of Boston’s cultural community, and we look forward to this partnership ensuring its vitality for at least another hundred years.”

ATG – the global leader in live theater – operates 46 venues on three continents and oversees co-productions in the UK, in New York and across North America, and in Europe, Asia and Australia. The award-winning producer operates a market-leading theater ticketing business. As the College’s partner, the London-based company will 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 for two Emerson students annually. Additionally, ATG will develop a creative theatre study initiative for Boston-area youth.

Pelton noted that while there were many worthwhile proposals, ATG’s was the clear winner. He believes ATG will contribute to the life of the city and the experience and education of Emerson students in ways that are real, measureable, and long-lasting. As part of the partnership, Emerson and ATG will create an advisory board, which will guide the development of programming and business strategies for the theatre. “This partnership will enable us to achieve our long-term commitment to restore, revive, and reanimate the Emerson Colonial Theatre, said Pelton. “Working with ATG will allow us to bring new productions, new vitality and new energy to this landmark theatre, located in the heart of the Emerson campus.”

ATG believes this new partnership will enliven both Boston’s theater community and Emerson’s downtown campus. “We could not be more delighted. The Colonial’s revival will be a strategic priority for ATG. Live performance should be a magical experience for the actors, musicians, and the audience. ATG is committed to combining this magic with real-world learning opportunities for students, all while bringing the best programming, the highest quality performances, and exceptional service to the Emerson Colonial Theatre. We will work with Emerson College to create a beautiful, thoughtfully designed and welcoming place. My personal thanks to President Lee Pelton and his Board for their trust in ATG – we greatly look forward to working with Emerson College over the coming years,” said Chief Executive at ATG Mark Cornell.

Pelton praised the diligent and thoughtful work of the Emerson Colonial Steering Committee, which reviewed proposals for the theatre, including 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; and David Dower, vice president, Office of the Arts, and executive director, ArtsEmerson. Professor Melia Bensussen, chair of Emerson’s Performing Arts Department, provided valuable advice to the Steering Committee on how the reopening of the Emerson Colonial Theatre could benefit Emerson faculty and students.

In particular, he cited Samuels for his leadership and guidance throughout the review process, particularly the negotiations with ATG. According to Samuels, “This agreement represents an important milestone for Boston and Emerson College. Preserving the Colonial and its rich history and ensuring its future role in the performing arts guided the committee and informed our decisions. Without question, this partnership underscores Emerson’s commitment to the City of Boston.”

Purchased by Emerson in 2006, Emerson and ATG have agreed to undertake significant renovations to the theatre. Additionally, ATG has agreed to invest in ongoing capital improvements to the Emerson Colonial Theatre each year for the life of the lease.

Boston Lyric Opera’s General and Artistic Director Esther Nelson sees the Emerson ATG partnership as a positive sign for Boston’s performing arts community. “At Boston Lyric Opera, we were very pleased to learn about Emerson College's new arrangement with ATG, which makes it possible for the historic Colonial Theatre to remain a home for the performing arts. And we welcome ATG to the community. I am personally grateful to President Pelton for advocating on our behalf to ATG, and to Mayor Walsh for keeping BLO’s need for a suitable performance space on his agenda. We look forward to sitting down with ATG to hear about opportunities that might enable BLO to produce opera in the Colonial, especially in the 2017/2018 season,” said Nelson.

Professor Bensussen expressed her enthusiasm for the partnership. “This is great for Boston’s arts community and for our performing arts students. Having access to performances, and the many resources and relationships ATG brings, offers an exciting new dimension to our students’ educational experiences and makes the performing arts program at Emerson College distinct. ATG is known for an extraordinary range and depth of programming and offers us an international opportunity as well as the chance to see wonderful productions at the beautiful, historic, and revered theatre,” said Bensussen. “I am grateful to President Pelton and the Board of Trustees for this visionary commitment to the performing arts, honoring the past and laying the foundation for an exciting future for the theatre, the college, and the community. My faculty and industry colleagues share this gratitude and eagerly anticipate the next chapter of the Emerson Colonial Theatre’s story.”

Emerson College 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. Since moving to the Theatre District in the early 1990s, Emerson has invested more than $600 million in the downtown, including the restoration of the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre and the Emerson Paramount Center and it plans an additional $200 million capital investment over the next two and a half years. These projects have garnered numerous honors, most prominently top awards from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the League of Historic American Theatres. For the last six years, Emerson has brought exciting and innovative productions from around the world to Boston through the establishment of ArtsEmerson, which has developed significant community partnerships, making theater experiences accessible to diverse audiences. With the addition of HowlRound, the College has become a hub for international research and communications related to the development of new theatrical works.

About Emerson College
Based in Boston, Massachusetts, opposite the historic Boston Common and in the heart of the city’s Theatre District, Emerson College educates individuals who will solve problems and change the world through engaged leadership in the liberal arts, communication, and the arts. The College has approximately 3,500 undergraduates and 670 graduate students from across the United States and 50 countries. Supported by state-of-the-art facilities and a renowned faculty, students participate in more than 90 student organizations and performance groups. Emerson is known for its experiential learning programs at Emerson Los Angeles, located in Hollywood, and at its beautifully restored 14th-century castle in the Netherlands. Additionally, there are opportunities to study in Washington, DC, London, China, the Czech Republic, Spain, Austria, Greece, France, Ireland, Mexico, Cuba, England, and South Africa. The College has an active network of 37,000 alumni. For more information, visit

About ATG                                                                                                                                                                                                                   The Ambassador Theatre Group is an extraordinary success story. Founded in 1992, ATG is now the world’s number one live-theatre company with more than 40 venues in Britain, the United States and Australia. In New York, ATG operates Broadway’s biggest theatre – The Lyric – where Harry Potter and The Cursed Child will be opening in the spring of 2018; The Kings in Brooklyn – following its stunning and acclaimed restoration and will soon re-launch The Hudson following full restoration to its former glory.  Across North America, ATG operates a number of other theatres including the magnificent Saenger Theatre in New Orleans and the Majestic in San Antonio.

As a prolific international award-winning producer, ATG creates work across the entertainment spectrum. Dynamism, creativity and quality are at the heart of everything the company produces and ATG has worked with some of the brightest lights from film and television in the theatrical world. ATG’s commitment to Creative Learning has been successful in developing theatre audiences, aiming to make arts accessible to all through workshops, relaxed performances and educational events and through the delivery of industry-leading training, apprenticeships and graduate schemes.

With advanced digital technology at the forefront of ATG’s customer experience, the company has a thriving web and social media presence. ATG is the market leader in theatre ticketing services issuing more than 11 million tickets annually and is the UK’s biggest theatre-ticketing website. The global success story continues.

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