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Positively Philadelphia: Changes Coming To Center City Theater

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - The Wilma Theater, along the Avenue of the Arts South, is gearing up for some big projects.

One of those projects includes transforming the lobby into a full-service cafe where people can hang out and enjoy lunch or coffee.

"With an ideal location on the Avenue of the Arts, and a desire to welcome the Philadelphia community into the theater, the Wilma has long aimed to redesign the current lobby into a café," says managing director James Haskins, "which will encourage audience members, local community members, and theater artists alike to gather in the Wilma's lobby for coffee, conversation, and informal programming."


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Wilma theater managing director James Haskins. (Credit: James Haskins)


Along with the cafe, which will come next year, what else? Haskins says they will be working with local artists more, as opposed to hiring from outside of the city:

"The Wilma is officially launching its Wilma HotHouse resident acting company, a collaborative group of performers who will reinforce the Wilma's commitment to cultivating and nurturing Philadelphia talent. We're also looking for opportunities to create more engagement between the artists and the audiences. What we've discovered over the course of the past few years is business as usual in standard operating models for the regional theater are not going to sustain us for the future."

And the big neon sign outside will stay, he says, but with a facelift.

The Wyncote Foundation has provided a $5-million gift to the Wilma Transformation Fund. In recognition of the Wyncote Foundation's generosity, the name "Aurora" will be featured on the building's facade.

The choice of name is in memory of Chara Aurora Cooper Haas, the mother of the four Haas brothers who make up the Wyncote Foundation Board of Directors. Wilma also plans to build a new on site Training and Education Studio, by adding a second floor to the Wilma's existing lobby structure.

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And for this week, that's "Positively Philadelphia!"

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