A major pledge from one of Richmond’s biggest corporations will help it get its name some extra downtown spotlight.
Dominion Resources has awarded a $5.5 million grant to Richmond CenterStage, a gift that calls for changing the name of the Carpenter Theatre performing arts facility at 600 E. Grace St. to the Dominion Arts Center, the two organizations announced on Monday.
The money from Dominion will be paid out over a 15-year period with a first payment of $700,000 and subsequent annual payments of about $345,000, CenterStage spokesman Jay Smith said. The money will be used for operations, maintenance and physical improvements to the facility. Smith said fixing the marquee at Carpenter Theatre is a top priority.
Dominion’s grant is being given through the Dominion Foundation, the company’s philanthropic arm.
“Dominion is invested in the cultural and artistic vibrancy of our local communities,” Dominion CEO Thomas Farrell II said in a release. “Richmond’s dynamic arts scene is an indispensable ingredient in making our region an attractive place to live and work.”
CenterStage comprises the 87-year-old, 1,800-seat Carpenter Theatre; the multi-use space Rhythm Hall; the Libby S. Gottwald Playhouse; and the Genworth BrightLights Education Center. The complex is also home to administrative offices for CenterStage, the Richmond Symphony and the Virginia Opera.
Smith said the Virginia Performing Arts Foundation was created in 2001 and changed its name to Richmond CenterStage in 2007. It is part of a public-private partnership with the mayor’s office and City Council.
Because of the city’s ownership stake, the name change will be voted on by City Council on Jan. 11. The Dominion Arts Center name is expected to begin appearing on tickets and marketing materials in early 2016, and new signage is planned to go up in the spring.
The Richmond CenterStage name will still be used by the nonprofit that manages its own facilities and the city-owned Altria Theater, which underwent a name change of its own early last year thanks to a $10 million gift from the tobacco giant. Dominion also had a hand in renovating the Altria Theater through a $2 million gift that gave it naming rights for the venue’s stage.
Dominion’s gift isn’t the first major donation CenterStage has received this year. In August, the performing arts organization got a total of $6 million from anonymous donors to help with renovations on the Altria Theater.
According to its 2012 financials from Guidestar.com, CenterStage nearly broke even with $2.45 million in revenue and $2.44 million in expenses. The organization swung to $21 million in the black for 2013, fueled in part by a spike in contributions and grants. Those were the most recent financials available for the organization.
Smith said in the 2014-2015 season the downtown performance complex had 109,543 ticketed guests for 140 performances. The complex also played host for 53 corporate or private events, Smith said.
Dominion and the Dominion Foundation gave $18.5 million to nonprofits in 2014, Dominion spokesman Ryan Frazier said. He said this year the two entities are on track to give about $20 million. Recipients of the energy corporation’s largesse include Richmond Sports Backers, Richmond Parade Inc., and Virginia Union University.