Naming Rights for Downtown Theater at 20 Franklin Street

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WORCESTER, MA – October 1, 2019 – The Worcester Cultural Coalition, in partnership with the Worcester Business Development Corporation and City of Worcester, have announced the naming rights for downtown Worcester’s first black box theater. Jean McDonough has contributed $2 million for construction and operations, bolstering the launch of theater operations scheduled for spring 2020.  The naming right will include exterior signage on Franklin Street, and will rebrand the arts complex as the Jean McDonough Arts Center.

The theater will offer 5,000+ square feet of flexible performance space, with seating for nearly 300. The black box layout can be customized to suit the needs of individual events, such as theatrical performances, live music, lectures, and special events.

Located at 20 Franklin Street, the theater directly connects to the Worcester PopUp, a creative catalyst and support space which began hosting interactive exhibitions, performances, workshops, and community meetings in April 2018. Its focus is on providing accessible, professional facilities and guidance in the business of art for Worcester’s dynamic spectrum of creatives and entrepreneurs.

Together, these sister spaces with corresponding missions will establish a hub as the Jean McDonough Arts Center: an exciting intersection of community and creativity. Both spaces exist to give residents of all ages and backgrounds the time, space, tools, and training to celebrate and share their cultures while growing their craft. The ultimate goal is to foster community connection and engagement while supporting the growth of the creative economy.

The Jean McDonough Arts Center will support the broader City goals of economic revitalization, creative engagement for all, and promotion of a strong cultural identity for Worcester. These goals are laid out in the City of Worcester’s recently-adopted Cultural Plan, which will be incorporated into the City’s forthcoming Masterplan. This deliberate, proactive partnership between a city and its cultural organizations is one of only a few such alliances in the nation. In a recent discussion of the Plan, Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus noted that, “it’s not just the City government’s plan, it’s a community plan. We all have a role in it.” Augustus went on to say that, “the Worcester renaissance isn’t real unless it includes everyone. We need to make sure that every person, and their gifts, and their talents, are part of that renaissance.”

Erin Williams, Cultural Development Officer for the City of Worcester, echoed Augustus. “We are creating this venue because the WCC members identified a strong need for theater and performance space. Our focus as a City, and our focus as artists and creators, is to make art of all types: dance, theater, music, poetry, film, accessible to the entire community. We’re building on Worcester’s formidable foundations of arts and cultural institutions which means we’re actively working to embed creative thinking, partnerships, and beauty throughout our City. The Cultural Plan does just that: arts for all. We are so grateful to Jean McDonough and family for their impeccable support for the arts and culture in Worcester.”

“I’ve always had a love for regional theater and couldn’t pass up this opportunity to support Worcester’s arts community and bring the stage to life. This new theater and Worcester PopUp tie right into my vision for a vibrant city,” noted Jean McDonough.

“The generosity of the McDonough family helps us fill a need felt in the community—a flexible performance, event and gallery space,” said Honee Hess, Coalition Chair. “The Jean McDonough Arts Center kicks off the City’s Cultural Plan with a bang.”

Construction of the Worcester PopUp and the black box would not have been possible without the generous contribution of many key community organizations and individuals including: the Barr Foundation, the Massachusetts Cultural Council/MassDevelopment Cultural Facilities Fund, the George I. Alden Trust, the Mildred H. McEvoy Foundation, the Jeanne Y. Curtis Charitable Trust, Mary DeFeudis, the Ruth H. and Warren A. Ellsworth Foundation, the Stoddard Charitable Trust, the Fred Harris Daniels Foundation, Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation, Berkshire Bank, Francis A. & Jacquelyn H. Harrington Foundation, National Grid, The Fletcher Foundation, Bank of America, Fidelity Bank, UniBank for Savings, bankHometown/Millbury Savings Bank, Bay State Savings Bank, WebsterFive, William J. McKee Charitable Foundation, Bradley C. Higgins Foundation, and the Hoche-Scofield Foundation.

Craig L. Blais, President of the Worcester Business Development Corporation says, “I am honored and thrilled to be placing Jean McDonough’s name on the front of a prominent downtown Worcester property.  On behalf of the WBDC, I am humbled and grateful for this generous contribution.”

Each year, the City of Worcester becomes more of a hub for cultural and creative life in New England. An estimated $125.7 million is spent in museums, shops, theatres, and restaurants by locals and nearly 3 million visitors annually. In Worcester’s downtown alone, recent public and private investments are in the hundreds-of-millions of dollars. When paired with the comparative costs of living and doing business in nearby metropolitan areas, as well as increasing transportation options and the ever-expanding creative economy, Worcester is a City which actively attracts new businesses and a young, diverse, educated workforce.

#ArtsForAll #MakeArtEverywhere #ArtsMatterHere

About the Worcester Cultural Coalition

The Worcester Cultural Coalition (WCC) is a public-private partnership established in 1999 between the City of Worcester and 12 cultural organizations. Today, membership stands at 78 organizations, accounting for more than 2.7 million visitors to Worcester annually. Its mission is to draw on Worcester’s rich and diverse cultural assets to foster economic revitalization, support active, creative engagement for all, and to promote a strong cultural identity for Greater Worcester. The WCC supports and encourages action that meets these creative goals of the Worcester Cultural Plan promoting cultural equity and creative community engagement.

About the Worcester PopUp

The Worcester PopUp is an exciting new intersection of community and creativity comprised of 3,500 historic-storefront square feet of flexible exhibition, performance, workshop, creative experimentation, and meeting space, and an additional 9,000+ square feet (seating for up to 289) devoted to what will be the City’s only black-box theater. The PopUp exists to give people of all ages and backgrounds the time, space, tools, and training to celebrate and share their cultures and to create their futures. By doing so, it fosters community connection and engagement that in turn supports the shared goals of economic revitalization, creative engagement for all, cultural equity and promotion of a strong cultural identity for Greater Worcester.

This “permanent popup” space offers a place for local artists, organizations, and creatives to create, display, and develop a variety of creative-based events ranging from art shows, open mics, music performances, and more. In its first year of operation it hosted over 125 events.

About Worcester Business Development Corporation

On July 19, 1965, the Worcester Business Development Corporation (WBDC) was founded by a large group of public-minded citizens. The mission of this organization was to collaborate with community officials in the Greater Worcester area to create a comprehensive approach to the economic challenges that face a community. In the spirit of civic responsibility, the WBDC was established to serve as an innovative and leading force in the economic development of the City of Worcester and the region, expanding the tax base through the creation and promotion of employment opportunities, while assisting in the development and growth of business and industry. Grounded in a tradition of economic development accomplishment, the WBDC has played a key role in strengthening the Worcester region’s position as an economic leader in Massachusetts. Through targeted investment and strategic partnering, the WBDC brings skills and resources to challenging and complex projects. The WBDC looks forward to assisting in the planning and development of this exciting project.


Media Contact:

Erin Williams, Cultural Development Officer

Cultural Development Division, City of Worcester



Lisa Drexhage, Project Manager

Worcester Business Development Corporation


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