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Heritage Center Museum to get big theater renovation to benefit community

Posted at 9:26 AM, Jun 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-23 12:26:48-04

PHOENIX — When it comes to the Heritage Center Museum, old is good. There are World War II airplanes and other original pieces of Arizona history proudly on display.

But when it comes to the Orientation Theater, also located in the Heritage Center, old is just...old.

But Tawn Downs with the Arizona Historical Society says, not for long.

"It's going to be a transformation that you won't believe," Downs said.

The theater is getting the much-needed upgrade thanks to the Legacy Project. The Legacy Project is a collaboration between the Arizona Historical Society and 48 Arizona Women.

"This theater, with the collaboration of the Arizona Historical Society and its friends, will become the '48 Arizona Women Theater,'" said Connie Robinson, who is the co-founder and chair of the organization.

"It will be transformed into a technology playhouse," she said.

The group 48 Arizona Women was formed back in 2010. It's made up of 48 influential women in Arizona including politicians, educators, entertainers, and CEOs, all with the common goal of making a difference in their communities.

"This project with the theater is going to be outstanding," Robinson said.

Renderings of the new theater show it transformed into a high-tech, state-of-the-art project-learning and presentation space. It will be equipped, Downs said, to produce high-quality video, films, and other digital content.

"The vision for the space is really multi-functional, where the space can be changed from a classroom environment to a workspace, where people can collaborate and work together," Downs said.

The new theater is being specifically designed to support underserved communities, and take on critical learning projects like literacy.

"We've known through the pandemic that the literacy gap has widened between rural and urban communities, so with the collaboration of the Arizona Historical Society we're going to decrease that gap," Robinson said.

"We are really interested in reaching those communities that are underserved right now," Downs added.

The new theater giving everyone, they say, the much-needed access to dream, create and explore.

Robinson says fundraising efforts are currently underway as the renovation comes with a price tag of $5 million. The funds will go towards building expenses, as well as creating meaningful programs to take advantage of the space. Robinson said the theater Its on schedule to be completed sometime in 2022.