The David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts opened its doors as the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Tampa
in July 1987. The venue was rebranded in November 2009 to recognize the donation of financier David A. Straz Jr.--the largest individual philanthropic gift ever made to a cultural institution in Tampa.
The Straz Center is located downtown on a site along the east bank of the Hillsborough River
. As the second largest performing arts complex in the Southeastern United States (behind the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts
), the venue provides an environment for a variety of events. It has a leading Broadway series and produces grand opera, as well as presenting a variety of concerts, performances and events. The center estimates that it has a statewide economic impact of $100 million annually, generates 100,000 hotel room nights a year, and has 110 full-time and 250 part-time employees. Attendance runs on average 600,000 guests per year.
In 2009, the Straz Center officially began a new program entitled the "Broadway Genesis Project," which presents premieres of musicals and plays that might move to Broadway
. In 2018 the Straz Center went under an extensive multi-million dollar renovation that included new wood floors on the stages, new cooler LED lighting, and improved dressing rooms for performers.
"Straz Center ready to raise the curtain on renovations"
''Fox 13 News'', Florida, 10 September 2018. Retrieved on 9 August 2019.
Judith Lisi is the current Chief Executive Officer.
Venues and facilities
The performing arts complex consists of five distinct theaters, a rehearsal hall, retail shops, on-site restaurants and banquet facilities. The five individual theaters are Carol Morsani Hall (2,600+ seats), Ferguson Hall (1,042 seats), the Jaeb Theater (292 seats), the TECO Energy Foundation Theater (250 seats and the Shimberg Playhouse (130 seats).
With the Patel Conservatory, the Straz Center has added for its extensive education programs. The Conservatory features 20 studios, including two dance studios with sprung floors, a sound/lighting laboratory, technical theater workshop, rehearsal hall, costume shop, isolation/sound booth, state-of-the-art black box theater and media arts/TV studio. During 2007/2008 the Conservatory served nearly 60,000 students with 2,948 classes, workshops and performances. In 2017, the Conservatory delivers outreach arts education services to 45 partnering schools and agencies in four counties.
Carol Morsani Hall
The centerpiece of the complex which seats over 2,600. The hall's proscenium is high with a playing depth of and a total stage width of . When combined with an 11-story high backstage area, the enormous Carol Morsani Hall onstage and backstage areas easily accommodate major productions of Broadway musicals, presentations by Opera Tampa
, ballets and multi-genre concerts. A 42-ton concert wall can be lowered for the orchestra and choral performances. The traditional horseshoe-shaped auditorium has continental seating on four levels: orchestra, mezzanine, balcony and gallery. Excellent sight lines combine with acoustics.
Suited for plays, pop concerts and dance events, the elegant 1,042-seat Louise Lykes Ferguson Hall boasts comfortable orchestra seating and two tiers of curving balconies, creating a unique blend of intimacy and spaciousness. With a wide by high proscenium, a total playing depth of and a total stage width of , plus orchestra pit and concert wall, the Ferguson Hall offers flexibility that also suits corporate meetings, lectures and seminars.
The 292-seat Robert and Lorena Jaeb Theater is named for the Jaebs, whose gift to the Capitol Fund Drive in 1985 helped establish the endowment fund for the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. The Jaeb Theater's stage is wide by deep. The audience area can be configured to stadium or cabaret seating for plays or cabaret shows, as well as recording sessions, television productions, seminars and business meetings.
TECO Energy Foundation Theater
The TECO Energy Foundation Theater dominates the west end of the first floor of the Patel Conservatory. The room is two stories of open space with glass walls and windows on two sides. Blackout curtains convert the rehearsal space into a performance space. There is no permanent stage and all furnishings are portable for flexibility.
The 130-seat Hinks and Elaine Shimberg Playhouse, located between the Center Store and the Jaeb Theater, is an intimate venue for local and national artists, such as poets, musicians, dancers, comedians, performance artists and companies such as resident theater company Jobsite Theater
. This specially-designed, flexible "black-box" theater allows for varied configurations of traditional or three quarter seating, as required by the production.
Events, resident companies and constituents
Annual events include the Broadway Ball, Best of Tampa Bay, Eggstravaganza, and a facility-wide Open House in the fall. The venue also is the annual host of the Broadway Theater Project
and International Thespian Society
’s Florida State Thespian Festival.
The center is the home to these resident companies:
*Next Generation Ballet
Straz Center has housed, and continues to house, a number of constituent organizations, including:
*Patel Conservatory Youth Theater Company
*Patel Conservatory Youth Ballet
*Patel Conservatory Jazz Ensemble
*The Florida Orchestra
*Gulf Coast Youth Choirs
*Heralds of Harmony
*Lyric Opera Theatre
* mad Theatre of Tampa (2014-2015 Best Community Theater Company from broadwayworld.com)
*The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay
*Spanish Lyric Theater
*Tampa Bay Gay Men's Chorus
*Tampa Bay Children's Chorus
*Tampa Bay Symphony
*Tampa Oratorio Singers
*Toast of Tampa
*University of South Florida, Department of Music
Straz Center for the Performing Arts Official Website
Category:Theatres in Tampa, Florida
Category:National Performance Network Partners
Category:Performing arts centers in Florida
Category:Event venues established in 1987
Category:Landmarks in Tampa, Florida
Category:Music of Tampa, Florida
Category:Music venues in Florida
Category:1987 establishments in Florida
Category:Concert halls in Florida