Grand Opera House Upgrades

Officials with The Grand Opera House in Wilmington, Del., announced in mid-October a $10 million fundraising drive for improvements has commenced.

Executive Director Stephen Bailey told Pollstar the response to the fund drive has been positive despite a still-down economy.
About $4.6 million already has been raised toward a goal of about $10 million for much-needed upgrades to heat and air conditioning, lighting, sound and electrical sytems.

“We’re replacing the core of the environmental systems … that we’ve gotten about 10 years past what experts said we could have,” Bailey said. “We’ll also do some things that are energy efficient and a bit like greening initiatives.

“These are cost-saving measures based on better management of the system.”

Bailey said the heat and AC refit should begin in about six months with minimal interruption to the venue’s scheduling, which is busiest from Oct. 1 through the end of May.

Bailey also said the venue, built in 1871, has expanded its programming to include a wider variety of acts.

“It’s really been a great transitional period for the Grand. Like many PACs, we began to concentrate a little less on high art and more on the audience speaking to us about some of the faster-moving, edgier things they’d really like to see,” he explained.

“We’ve done some really cool shows and it’s really expanded the support base for the Grand.”