On 16 February 2012, the Utah Shakespeare Festival announced plans to build a $26.5 million Shakespeare theater on 200 West, between Center Street and College Avenue. The new 900-seat theater will feature amenities missing from the current Adams Memorial Shakespearean Theatre, including public restrooms, ADA accommodations, and heating and air conditioning improvements. A retractable roof will expand the season and allow for possible year-round usage. An incorporated artistic center will provide necessary and functional facilities for a number of artistic, technical, and administrative uses. Construction is expected to begin in Fall 2013, with completion by early 2015.
"The current theater has been a joy to perform in and has served the actors, directors and patrons well for more than 35 years," said Fred C. Adams, founder of the Utah Shakespeare Festival. “But as the Festival has grown, we are now feeling a dire need for a larger, more modern facility that includes such creature comforts as public restrooms and a proper backstage area. When completed, this new Shakespeare theater will re-create the charm and intimate environment under the stars that has so thrilled and excited our patrons from across the nation and throughout the world."
The Utah Shakespeare Festival presented its first season in 1962. In 2000, it received the Tony Award for outstanding regional theater in the country. The Festival attracts nearly 120,000 patrons annually, generating more than $35 million in patron spending and tax revenues. Audience members in 2011 came from 39 states and nine different countries. Nonresidents, who constitute a third of the Festival's patrons, spend an average of $106 per event for lodging, transportation, restaurants and souvenirs. Nonresident patron spending in 2010 totaled over $10 million.
"The Utah Shakespeare Festival is a multi-million dollar economic engine for the State of Utah that creates jobs, increases tourism, generates tax revenue, and expands cultural opportunities, and we are thrilled to be affiliated with it on our campus," said Michael T. Benson, president of Southern Utah University.
The new playhouse will allow for additional performances, which will draw an additional 30,000 patrons to Cedar City and increase the economic impact of the Festival by an estimated $8 million annually.
"The addition of the new Shakespeare theatre will not only allow us to increase the size and scope of our programming, but more importantly it will continue to make The Utah Shakespeare Festival and Cedar City among the top destinations in our region for patrons and top tier artists alike," said Festival Artistic Directors David Ivers an Brian Vaughn.
"Festival Announces Plans For New Theatre", 16 February 2012, Utah Shakespeare Festival