Publication Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Theatre Arts


Centers for the performing arts--Middle West--Management; Urban renewal--Middle West; Historic buildings--Middle West--Conservation and restoration


Performing arts centers throughout the country have emerged from neglected and abandoned concert halls, movie palaces and theatres. The conversion of these buildings to modern performance spaces contributes to the expansion of the arts and enlivens the downtowns of their cities. This study focuses on three Midwestern facilities: the Paramount Arts Centre in Aurora, Illinois, the Ohio Theatre in Columbus, and the Pabst Theatre in Milwaukee. Each is an architecturally and historically significant building either partially or fully restored and owned by a nonprofit or governmental agency. At this writing, no other work exists which explores the purposes, goals and managements of multi-use, rental and booking oriented, nonprofit arts centers. Each of these centers rents to nonprofit and for profit agencies. The Ohio and Paramount also present a mix of commercial and noncommercial attractions which they book and promote. Organizational structures and funding aspects of the centers are examined, as well as their rental policies, promotion and audience development programs. An emphasis is placed on managerial concepts rather than detailed procedures of any one facet of the operations. Milwaukee, Columbus and Aurora are engaged in major downtown redevelopment projects which incorporate the three centers, to varying degrees, in the revitalization efforts for the central area. The relationship of the arts centers to the redevelopment agencies reveals that the arts are an integral element of downtown renewal. They draw people to depressed areas and, in turn, stimulate local economic conditions by creating a demand for restaurants, entertainment spots, stores, parking and so forth. This study employs the case study method of research through personal interviews with the managers of the Paramount, Ohio and Pabst and the local redevelopment agencies. The majority of the research was conducted in 1978, just prior to the reopening of the Paramount, a 1931 art deco vaudeville movie palace. The Ohio, originally a Loew's grand movie palace built in 1928, reopened in 1969 as a performance center; the 1895 Pabst Theatre reopened in 1976. The redevelopment agencies were all created in 1974. In each case, the renovation of the theatre was a speculative development which did not clearly address any one specific need. Meticulous restorations were conducted before a complete range of uses was established. In two cases, the lack of a well defined purpose gave the individual manager a great deal of latitude in shaping the future of the center. The relationship between the redevelopment agencies and the centers results in reciprocal benefits which increase the visibility of the projects and enhance their opportunities for success.


Includes bibliographical references.


174 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type