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City Gives $4.5M Toward Decadelong Austin Playhouse Arts Center Project

Designed by Forge Craft Architecture & Design, the 25,000 square foot arts center includes two theaters, rehearsal and classroom spaces, and a lobby. 

“(It) will be transformative for us as an arts organization to have this stability that we have really never experienced. Our subscriber base over the years has been as high as 2,000. It’s obviously a lot lower than that now coming out of the pandemic, but we have this core group of really loyal, longtime supporters and a lot of new folks that are joining us,” producing artistic director Lara Haddock said of the plans for a 99-seat black box theater space and a 207-seat main stage that will be made available to a wide variety of community groups. “It’s always been part of our vision for the space that it would serve Austin Playhouse, but that we could also fill a need in the community and that it would be of use to a lot of diverse arts organizations.”

Austin Playhouse is currently operating out of converted space in University Baptist Church on Guadalupe Street, its fourth location since opening 24 years ago.

Haddock said theater leaders were optimistic about their chances to receive funding since they first applied as part of the city’s request for proposals that opened in late 2021. That process brought in 45 applicants who collectively represented $300 million of need for space in the local arts community.

“From the get go, we felt that our project had a lot of areas of alignment with how the city wanted the funds to be used,” she said. “I love the convenience of West Campus, but parking is tough and the construction in the area is tough for some of our people. There’s also a convenience factor and a visibility factor moving to a space where 65,000 cars drive past every day. It’s a pretty great path that the city is on to be supporting these arts groups with this level of visibility.”

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