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Union for Contemporary Art renovating historic building to expand theater program

Posted at 6:30 AM, Jul 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-16 07:30:22-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The Union for Contemporary Art has been hosting performances at their N 24th St. location for several years, but now they're growing out of that space and are ready to expand their horizons.

The Union will be breathing life back into the building which sits just to its south — a building that has stood on N. 24th St. since 1914.

It’s been a place to wash clothes, get your car fixed and drop your kids off, but soon it will be a space for the North Omaha community to tells its own stories.

“We’re essentially expanding upon our performing art program by building a proper black-box theater space," said Union founder Brigitte McQueen.

They aim to preserve the building's historic architecture but will also be modernizing it enough to continue its legacy.

“Taking this 107-year-old building that is in not great shape and hopefully creating a space that will be here for another 100 years," McQueen said.

The $5.5 million renovation project will add dressing rooms, a rehearsal space and a scene shop, but the most exciting addition according to producing artist director Denise Chapman:

“Seat capacity," Chapman said with a chuckle. "We will be able to serve more of our neighbors to be able to see shows.”

The theater will nearly double the Union’s current seat capacity. Allowing more people to see the shows, and bringing more economic wealth to the 24th St. district.

“Every performance will be about 100 people that will be looking for someplace to go and have supper or a place to sit down after a performance," McQueen said. "It really is going to add to the vibrancy and vitality on the 24th St. corridor.”

And as for the performers like Nik Whitcomb, they said they’re ready for all the opportunities the expansion will bring.

“It’s so exciting, and I think that it’s the ownership that we need of our art to really take it to that next level," Whitcomb said.

The Union is raising money for the renovations, hoping to begin construction by 2022. You can find out how to support the project here.

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