The Phoenix Theatre Cultural Centre hasn’t been able to stage a live performance during the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean its brain trust hasn’t been working to reach beyond its walls.
As a result of that work, the Downtown theater plans to launch two new outdoor spaces early next year – the Park at the Phoenix and the Patio at the Phoenix.
A Memorial Day weekend opening is being targeted for The Park at the Phoenix, which will feature 250 COVID-compliant seats on the surface parking lot on the west side of Illinois Street just across from the theater. The parking spaces will still be available when there is no programming at The Park.
The Park is being called “Indy’s coolest new urban outdoor entertainment venue.” The open-air space will feature a container conversion stage. It will feature full concession availability, restrooms and over 200 free and metered parking spaces within walking distance to the event, according to Bob Lehman, the Phoenix sales and marketing manager.
The Patio at the Phoenix, meanwhile, is a cabaret-style outdoor performance space adjacent to the theater along the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, with a seating COVID-compliant capacity of 35. A late-spring opening is anticipated for the space which Lehman called “stylishly elegant yet laid back and fun.” He added that the “outdoor urban oasis reflects the artsy vibe of the Phoenix featuring light fare, specialty drinks and live entertainment safely served with a garden view of the Glick Peace Walk.”
As planning continues, Phoenix leaders are reaching out to the arts community for input on how they can make the spaces “relevant, affordable and accessible to as many arts groups as possible.” Lehman said the outdoor spaces fit with the Phoenix mission to provide a space to, and partner with, many more voices from a wider diversity of communities, cultures and performing arts organizations.
Lehman added that Phoenix planners have worked with city officials to bring the project to life. The Phoenix team includes Phanomen Design and other industry professionals on its development team including Greg Henneke of American Structurepoint as a consultant. Another partner in the project is the state-certified Minority and Women Business Enterprise.
Lehman said the outdoor spaces were envisioned before, but accelerated by the issues presented by the pandemic. “COVID presented us with a challenge and opportunity to further define the ‘Cultural Centre’ component of our name with new types of devised work and events outside of our brick-and-mortar walls,” he said. The cost of the project is being covered by grants which were designed to help organizations such as the Phoenix pivot during the pandemic to be better positioned in a post-COVID world.
PHOTO ABOVE: The Phoenix Theatre Cultural Center has plans for two outdoor spaces and for collaboration with other arts organizations.