A $200,000 state grant is helping to put a dent in the million-dollar-plus gap that remains to open the 300-seat black box theater at the Worcester PopUp at 20 Franklin St.
The Worcester Cultural Coalition on Thursday announced the grant, which comes from the Mass Cultural Council and Mass Development and will go toward construction of the theater. The theater is still $1.5 million shy of what is needed to open its doors, according to Erin Williams, Worcester cultural development officer.
The Worcester PopUp celebrated its grand opening last month. The black box theater is the centerpiece of a space catering to multimedia artists, performers and others, but remains under construction. The grant is expected to leverage funding from the Barr Foundation, which was revealed at the grand opening as a major supporter of the PopUp, and other supporters.
The theater will serve a “demonstrable need” in the city’s creative community, according to Worcester Cultural Coalition Chair Honee Hess, saying it “fills the void for a mid-sized, affordable performance venue.”
Described as state-of-the-art, the theater is being seen as a catalyst in the city’s Theatre District and, according to Hanover Theatre Executive Director Troy Siebels, will “bring more events to the city that will support independent artists and creative expression within the community.”
With Worcester seen locally and statewide as going through a renaissance, Williams called it a “creative revitalization,” with theater and PopUp a part of it.
“We are very excited to be halfway through completion of our efforts to renovate the 20 Franklin St. location into a creative co-working space and performance venue,” she said. “The Worcester PopUP leverages the city’s strong creative and entrepreneurial community. Providing a hub where these two worlds can collide will create extraordinary results which will help re-brand and attract visitors to downtown Worcester.”
In addition to the theater, several other members of the Worcester Cultural Coalition received Cultural Facilities Fund Grants, including the American Antiquarian Society, $200,000; Arts Worcester, $150,000; Joy of Music, $174,000; Massachusetts Symphony Orchestra, $150,000; Tower Hill Botanic Garden, $92,000; Worcester Center for Crafts, $30,000; Worcester Center for Performing Arts, $97,000; and Worcester Community Cable Access, $200,000.