Today we begin. In a groundbreaking ceremony at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27, we stake our artistic claim at the site of our future home. It will mark the start of an estimated two-year process of constructing Near West Theatre’s own 25,550-square-foot building on West 67th Street near Detroit Avenue. Join us for a brief outdoor ceremony in a formation that will be familiar to Near West participants: a circle of people (a couple-hundred, in this case!) gathered around a fire. Artistic Director Bob Navis Jr. has crafted a meaningful “We claim this ground” call-and-response litany, during which wooden stakes with colorful ribbons will be planted in the ground, symbolizing our theater’s art, mission and values. This will be followed by a joyous, drum-accompanied walk to the nearby Capitol Theatre for an indoor celebration starting about 4:30, including:
- projected images of our past, present and future;
- Bob’s and Stephanie Morrison-Hrbek’s thoughts on what has brought us here and what this new building will mean to the spirit and work of the theater;
- kudos from dignitaries such as Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Council Members Matt Zone and Joe Cimperman;
- the honoring of Gordon Square Arts District leaders and generous lead donors who have raised and given 87 percent of the $6.8 million NWT project cost so far;
- “In the Beginning,” sung by members of the cast of our current production of Children of Eden; and
- refreshments in the Capitol lobby afterwards!
The proceedings won’t go on too long. We have to wrap up by 5:30 so that we can clear out in time for the Capitol to prepare for evening movies!
Electronic and mailed invitations drew more than 250 “yesses.” A front-page article in The Plain Dealer on Nov. 23 also called attention to our new building and this special occasion. Parking and shuttle information can be found here.
We’re grateful to Grant Thornton LLP for its financial support of this groundbreaking event. — Hans Holznagel