Griffin Theatre Company to open “Griffin Arts Center” in renovated police station in fall 2012

Chicago, IL, March, 2011.

After twenty-two successful years of producing theatre in Chicago for both children and adults the Griffin Theatre Company will create a neighborhood professional performing arts center in the Bowmanville neighborhood of Chicago. The facility, the city of Chicago 20th district police station located at 1940 West Foster Avenue will be converted into the GRIFFIN ARTS CENTER with a projected fall 2012 opening to coincide with the Griffin’s 24th Anniversary season.

Celebrated theatre architect John Morris who designed both the Steppenwolf Theatre and the Lookingglass Theatre downtown at the pumping station is currently designing the venue. The GRIFFIN ARTS CENTER will be done in two phases. The first phase will begin in early 2011 and the renovation will include an 80 seat black box theatre to be completed in 2012. The second phase will create a 120 seat main-stage theatre and be completed by 2015. The 120 seat theatre will have a fly system to utilize state of the art lighting and scenery designs. The stage floor will be a series of traps to allow for entrances and exits from below the stage. The design will be completely unique and architectural elements of the police station will be incorporated into the design of the theatre—the box office will be one of the stations old holding cells. The original office space and interrogation rooms of the police station will be converted in to the Griffin’s administrative offices and allow for classrooms and workshop space. The Griffin is dedicated to performing theatre for children and young people and in addition will create performing arts classes for children and partner with the nearby neighborhood schools to help integrate arts curriculum into the classroom.

The Griffin has already begun a five year capital campaign to raise 3.2 million dollars to complete the 2 phase project. Terry Kozlowski the Griffin’s board President who lead the five year campaign which culminated in the city awarding the property to the company explained, “I am so grateful to all the people who have supported this dream over the years and worked so creatively and diligently to make this a reality. After 20+ years of service, this building will give us the base to become an even greater asset to the Edgewater community, to all of Chicagoland and to the over 100,000 youth we serve through our outreach programs across the country.”

Six years ago the Griffin vacated its thirteen-year home in Andersonville due to escalating rents. Alderman Patrick J. O’Connor of the 40th ward saw a need to keep the Griffin in the neighborhood and offered the Griffin a chance to purchase, renovate and create a theatrical complex in an abandon police station on the corner of Foster Avenue and Damen Avenue in the Edgewater neighborhood. The purchase price of building from the city of Chicago was an unprecedented amount—one dollar. The Griffin recognized this was a remarkable opportunity and a chance for the organization to create the unprecedented growth it needed to sustain itself for years to come.

More importantly, the Griffin will be creating a neighborhood arts center where people of all backgrounds can gather to enjoy, participate, and experience the arts.

To learn more about the GRIFFIN ARTS CENTER and its Twenty-Second Anniversary Season visit www.griffintheatre.com or call 773-769-2228.

The Griffin Theatre Company is partially supported by grants from a CityArts Program II grant through the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs; and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.