City gets grant to support Waukesha Civic Theatre’s expansion

Rendering of the exterior of the expanded Waukesha Civic Theatre.

Last updated on September 14th, 2022 at 03:59 pm

The city of Waukesha is set to receive a $250,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC) in support of the Waukesha Civic Theatre’s ongoing expansion project.

The project, known as the Academy Expansion Project, will provide a new façade and lobby to brighten and revitalize the existing space at 264 W. Main St. In the adjacent space at 270 W. Main St., a new, 75-seat theatre — dubbed the Black Box Theatre — will be developed. This will include new backstage, reception and office areas.

“The Waukesha Civic Theatre has long been drawing crowds downtown,” said Missy Hughes, WEDC secretary and CEO. “This renovation and expansion will allow the theater to continue entertaining visitors and inspiring the next generation of artists to take the stage. WEDC is excited to assist with this expansion, and we expect the updated theater to further benefit the community both culturally and economically.”

In March, the theater was able to start construction after raising $3 million in support of the project. In 2020, the theater purchased the adjacent building at 270 W. Main St., the former Little Swiss Clock Shop, to expand into.

Once completed, the expansion will allow the theater to serve an additional 1,000 students and grow the number of schools it serves from 12 to 20. It also expects to increase its live productions from 50 to 75 annually, and its special events from 10 to 25.

“It’s going to get a really great facelift, so it will definitely add, aesthetically, to Main Street,” said Jennifer Andrews, director of Waukesha’s Community Development Department. “It will draw even more activity to Main Street as they increase their programming and add a second theatre space—they’ll be able to have more than one show at a time, and that just increases the overall usage of the building and how many people come to visit.”

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Ashley covers startups, technology and manufacturing for BizTimes. She was previously the managing editor of the News Graphic and Washington County Daily News. In past reporting roles, covering education at The Waukesha Freeman, she received several WNA awards. She is a UWM graduate. In her free time, Ashley enjoys watching independent films, tackling a new recipe in the kitchen and reading a good book.

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