News & Press: Updates

Benson Theatre - thanks for renewing your NAM membership!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kelly Koepsell
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It’s been 90 years since the Benalto Theater entertained the Benson neighborhood with vaudeville performances, film screenings and community events. Thanks to the generosity of donors, a groundswell of community support and a lot of elbow grease, the dream of reopening the venue for educational and artistic experiences is making great headway.

As of May 1, the Benson Theatre group has raised funds to purchase the building at 6054 Maple Street, develop plans for its renovation and is within $1.4 million of its total fund-raising goal, said Amy Ryan, the nonprofit’s executive director. “Our mission is to engage, enhance and enrich the Benson community with educational and artistic experiences, and our message is starting to resonate with people throughout the city,” she said.

The Benson Theatre group, spearheaded by Ryan, formed in 2009 and received its nonprofit status in 2012. The total cost of the project, including construction and six months of operating costs, is $2.4 million. Construction will begin when all the funds have been raised, Ryan said.

In addition to securing almost half its fund-raising goal, the theatre has formed 37 community partnerships with local organizations that plan to use the facility once it opens, including the University of Nebraska at Omaha College of Communication, Fine Arts and Media, Hear Nebraska and Benson High School.

“The diversity of our community partners reflects the neighborhood and will be the key to our programming,” Ryan said. The venue will host educational workshops and seminars during the day and entertainment during the evening.

Educational offerings will include:

  • Corporate-sponsored basic business, marketing and financial planning workshops for artists, philanthropists, entrepreneurs and underserved populations, including special needs groups and the impoverished
  • Business, marketing and entrepreneurship classes
  • Life and social skills classes

The 225-seat assembly theatre will provide the backdrop for film, live theatre, musical performances, vaudeville and comedy. It will also be available for private events.

“The Benson Theatre will be a space for people to connect and collaborate, encouraging both personal and community growth,” said Lenli Corbett, chair of the Benson Theatre Board of Directors. “We hope that once open, all community members will find a way to experience the Theatre that is meaningful to them.”

For more information, contact Ryan at amy@bensontheatre.org or 402.218.3678.