In 2010, the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (DCPA) undertook a $57 million renovation of the Helen Bonfils Theater Complex. The project was divided into three phases, the second of which required the DCPA to embark on its first-ever fundraising 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 achieved.
“I was fortunate to be part of the very first audience when the Helen Bonfils Theater Complex opened in 1979,” said DCPA President Martin Semple. “Our founder and my friend, Don Seawell, would be extremely happy to see the transformation of our lobby and theaters. He originally said this building was a ‘gift to the city of Denver.’ Now, thanks to significant ADA upgrades, gender-neutral bathrooms, and a welcoming central lobby, more people will be able to use and enjoy these facilities than ever before.”
“The support of Mayor Hancock, the City Council and the voters of Denver has been essential to the success of this extraordinary achievement,” said Janice Sinden, President and CEO of the DCPA. “Through the Better Denver, Elevate Denver, and RISE bond funds, our community has invested $31.1 million in the future of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, ensuring the theater will remain a vibrant contributor to economic and cultural enrichment. from downtown Denver.”
“We are extremely grateful to the individuals, foundations and corporations that have contributed to ‘A Grander Opening’,” said Hassan Salem, President of Capital Campaign. “We received 351 donations in total, including six bequests and 320 seats named to honor loved ones. This response – especially in times of uncertainty – was nothing short of remarkable.”
DCPA engaged 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; stage designer and theater lighting designer Jo Melziener; Gordon Davidson, artistic director of the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, and DCPA founder Donald Seawell. Turner Construction was awarded the contract to carry out the designs.
PHASE 1 ($13 million)
Phase 1 (2010-2017) included reducing the DCPA’s physical footprint, relocating the IT server room, renovating the artists’ quarters, improving infrastructure and energy, and renovating the theater Dorota & Kevin Kilstrom (formerly Space). Theater upgrades made it fully ADA compliant, provided essential life and safety upgrades, added restrooms including gender-neutral installation, overhauled audio-visual systems, and provided performance space flexible.
Phase 1 cost $13 million, of which $9 million was awarded through the Better Denver Bond program and $4 million was paid for by the DCPA.
PHASE 2 ($41 million)
The second phase began in 2018 and continued as sites were forced to close. The building reopened in June 2021 for the DCPA’s signature fundraiser, Saturday Night Alive. Performances resumed in the fall of 2021, and audiences saw the improvements firsthand during the DCPA Theater Company’s annual production of A Christmas Carol.
These improvements included a complete rebuild of the Marvin & Judi Wolf Theater (formerly Stage) and the William Dean Singleton Theater (formerly Ricketson), including fire/life safety upgrades, adding flexible seating to make the spaces more versatile , improved sight lines and the implementation of advanced technology.
The renovation also allowed the DCPA to expand ADA accessibility for guests, cast, and crew members, including the addition of three elevators to provide better access to all seats, theaters and backstage. In addition, the accessible and companion seats have been enlarged and improvements have been made to the assisted listening and audio description systems.
Finally, the backstage and support areas were renovated, energy efficiency was improved, gender-neutral restrooms for the public and crew were added, and the entrance to the Singleton Theater was relocated so that the public can enter a central hall to access all theaters.
Phase 2 cost $41 million, of which $19 million was awarded through the Elevate Denver Bond program, $5 million was paid for by the DCPA and the Helen G. Bonfils Foundation, and $17 million were collected as part of the “A Grander Opening” fundraising campaign. This campaign represents $8 million in contributions from the DCPA Board of Directors, including four principal gifts from Marvin & Judi Wolf, Dorota & Kevin Kilstrom, William Dean Singleton, and Robert & Judi Newman, who renamed the DCPA Theater for students in honor of the end of the DCPA. President Randy Weeks.
PHASE 3 ($3.1 million)
The final phase will begin in 2023 and will address fire/life safety issues at the Helen Bonfils Theater Complex, including 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 with 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; Chairman of “A Grander Opening” and National Head of Commercial Banking at US Bank
- William Dean Singleton, Board Secretary/Treasurer, DCPA; Honorary Co-Chair of “A Grander Opening” and President of the Helen G. Bonfils Foundation
- Judi Wolf, Board of Directors, DCPA; Honorary Co-Chair of “A Grander Opening”
- Janice Sinden, President and CEO of the DCPA
- Gretchen Hollrah, COO of the DCPA
- Jamie Clements, Vice President of Development, DCPA
- Chris Coleman, Artistic Director, DCPA Theater Company
- Lisa Roebuck, Vice President of IT, DCPA
- Jeff Gifford, Director of Production and Construction Project Management, DCPA
- Erin Walker, Senior Director of Development, DCPA
- Marc Ravenhill, Associate Director of Development, DCPA
- Suzanne Yoe, Director of Content and Communications, DCPA
- Chris Wineman, Director, Semple Brown Design
- Aaron Wiebelhaus, Vice President and General Manager, Turner Construction
- Rebecca Kalinowsky, Project Manager, Turner Construction
- Hannah Yaritz, CCS Fundraising
- Julie Voorhees, Former Fundraising Director, DCPA
- Vicky Miles, Former Chief Financial Officer, 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 complete list of upcoming performances at the Wolf, Kilstrom and Singleton theaters, visit denvercenter.org.