Building the Future of the Arts in Iowa City
A great city deserves great theatre… Riverside Theatre is proud to have moved into our new home, but we still need your support!
It’s time for the Next Stage, and we need your help. A gift of any size helps us build the future of the Arts in Iowa City, and we thank you for your generous support.
Thanks to the strength of our community, we exceeded our $1.8 million goal!
When you visit the new Riverside Theatre, you’ll learn to expect the unexpected. Our new flexible theatre space means our seats can easily be arranged into a variety of configurations – ensuring that you will get a new, thrilling experience as an audience member every time you see a show. Help make that magic by sponsoring and naming a chair today!
Naming a chair is a meaningful way to support Riverside and leave your mark – or dedicate to a loved one!
In our new space, a trail of lights will lead you all the way from the 1st floor to the 3rd floor theatre. Our Guiding Light donors have each made their mark by dedicating a light.
Our New Home
In January 2021, the Iowa City Council unanimously approved new space for Riverside Theatre as a part of renovations to the Crescent Block Building on the Iowa City Ped Mall. Today, Riverside has taken its place on the third floor of this historic building in downtown Iowa City, setting the stage for the next 40 years of artistic excellence.
Riverside Theatre has elevated the backstage, pre-show, and post-show experiences to match the outstanding productions ON stage with a new 6,800 square foot performance venue, bringing our community a permanent, state of the art facility unlike any other in the region.
Your gift will set the stage for the future of arts in Iowa City with:
- More flexibility to stage productions not currently possible, improving artistic innovation and audience enjoyment
- Improved audience comfort
- Audience inclusion initiatives that further Riverside’s commitment to create theatre accessible to all people
- A vibrant space for community, learning, and collaboration
- Opportunities to deepen partnerships with arts and educational organizations
- A hub for change-making programs that reach Iowa City residents of all ages for much-needed rehearsal, outreach, and meeting space
- A cultural destination for area residents and visitors that contributes to the post-pandemic reinvigoration of the downtown district.
Where We’ve Been
Founded in 1981 by Ron Clark, Jody Hovland, and Bruce Wheaton, Riverside Theatre was built on the belief that serious-minded professional theatre belongs in the heart of Iowa City.
Riverside’s former home on Gilbert Street was iconic – reminiscent of storefront theatres in Chicago and New York, the cramped lobby and low ceilings had a certain undeniable charm. Unfortunately, the intimacy and coziness of the space restricted staging options, sacrificed audience comfort, and limited accessibility for everyone, performers included. Riverside Theatre’s Next Stage campaign will change all that.
- Paid opportunities for artists have served as a key part of Riverside’s identity
- Local artists make up more than 90% of hires
- Annual paid positions regularly exceed 100 in number
- The only active theatre in Eastern Iowa that hires members of Actors Equity Association, the national union of professional actors and stage managers
- Riverside will play an even larger role in preserving and expanding fair wages for professional actors, designers, and directors in our community
- Core Member of the National New Play Network, an organization dedicated to the incubation and creation of new plays
- Nationally acclaimed playwrights such as Lee Blessing and Jen Silverman produced early works at Riverside, as well as writer-performer Megan Gogerty
BREATHING NEW LIFE INTO A FORGOTTEN SPACE
When you visit the new Riverside Theatre, your experience will include improvements such as:
- Entrance: From College Street through a first-floor entrance that spans the depth of the building, greeted by a patron elevator and stairway to the third floor.
- Black Box Theatre: 150-seat black box with flexible seating and variable staging configurations. Entirely energy efficient lighting advances Riverside Theatre’s commitment to more environmentally friendly, sustainable, and innovative theatre-making. The versatile design enhances immediacy and intimacy, connecting audiences and artists in creative ways
- Lobby: Triple the size of the Gilbert Street lobby with a view of the historic Pedestrian Mall and floor-to-ceiling windows, patrons can enjoy a beverage or conversation before and after the show. Doubles as a space for readings, intimate musical performances, cabarets, and galleries.
- Back Stage: Expanded makeup and dressing stations, fully furnished green room and kitchenette, video and sound monitors, a close-circuit call system, and ADA accessible dressing room, restroom, and backstage area.
This endeavor is a step that our whole community can be proud of – our artists, audiences, collaborators, and fellow arts organizations that have made this city such a vibrant, rewarding place to live. Today, we’re asking you to join us in making this vision a reality.
Thank you for supporting Riverside Theatre’s Next Stage.
“Riverside is launching into its next chapter, and the future is dazzling. It’s not just that we’ll have a fancy new theatre with a fancy new stage. It’s more than that: it’s a home for our grand ambitions. It’s a place for our hopes and ideals.”
— Megan Gogerty
CAPITAL CAMPAIGN HONORARY CHAIRS
David Rust & Joy Smith
RIVERSIDE THEATRE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Lois Cox and Cynthia Schmidt, Co-Chairs
Uri Lessing, Vice Chair
“We are proud of our legacy of support for Riverside. The Theatre shares our value of community engagement. Riverside takes seriously the power of live theater to strengthen the fabric of the community at the same time that it is devoted to nurturing a community of local artists.”
— David Rust and Joy Smith, Campaign Co-Chairs