Posted by Terrence Dalton
The Rotary Club of Akron had the pleasure of listening to Howard Parr, Executive Director of the Akron Civic Theatre at our Tuesday, May 18, 2021 weekly Club meeting.  Mr. Parr provided some history of the Civic Theatre as well as a preview of the fantastic results from the most recent restoration and expansion of the existing location. 
Howard Parr has more than 25 years of professional experience in arts, entertainment, and consulting. His work includes organizational development and strategic planning, as well as program management and event production. 
Howard has served as executive director of the Akron Civic Theatre since September 2007.  He served as The Civic’s Director of Development and Planning from 1999 – 2004, during which he directed the capital campaign for the theater’s $22.5 million expansion and restoration project. In addition to his work on the capital campaign, he was talent buyer for in-house programming (through 2002 – 2003), as well as for the first season of Lock Three Park, an outdoor performance space immediately adjacent to the Civic Theatre.
History of the Akron Civic Theatre:
Long recognized among the community’s cultural landmarks, the Akron Civic Theatre has a rich and spectacular history. It has provided the community with a venue for quality entertainment and live performances for over seventy years. 
The theater was built in 1929 by Marcus Loew and designed by famed theater architect, John Eberson. The interior structure was fashioned after a Moorish castle featuring Mediterranean decor, including medieval carvings, authentic European antiques and Italian alabaster sculptures.
Among facilities of its size, the Civic is one of only five remaining atmospheric theaters in the country where patrons experience a twinkling star-lit sky and intermittent clouds moving across the horizon, all while sitting inside the auditorium.
Restoration and Expansion:
The current $8.5 million capital campaign builds on the rich history of the Civic Theatre.  The transformation is creating a better entertainment experience and more ways for all of us to enjoy the “Jewel on Main Street.”  Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic impact of the Civic Theatre was an annual $8.1 million dollars with an annual attendance of 135,000 individuals.  In addition to the events held at the Civic Theatre, the Civic administration also provides the box office services for EJ Thomas Hall and participates with the Akron Civic Commons which is an initiative that looks at the city’s public spaces.  In addition, the Civic Theatre also provides booking and technical support for Lock 3 events.
The current capital campaign which in the home stretch, is restoring the Grand Lobby and the Arcade.  In addition, there will be a 200+ seat performance space.  This new space will be in the adjacent Whitelaw building with residential housing in the upper floors.  This new performance space will allow the Civic to host 100 smaller events and will allow more full-theater events in the main stage.  The Civic will also construct an outdoor deck which will allow individuals additional ways to interact with the Civic and surrounding downtown venues.  The Civic will be installing a huge outdoor digital screen.  This digital screen will allow the Civic to broadcast select shows, giving you outside access to their programming.  They will also hare events via live Facebook broadcasts, podcasts and more. 
While visiting downtown, experience an exciting collection of public art around the Civic.  You will find murals on the sweeping exterior walls of the Civic along South Main Street and West Bowery Street.
The Civic will be holding a grand re-opening the week of August 14 with a gala event on August 14th.
To view some of the before and after pictures of the Civic Theatre restoration, I encourage you to view the recording of Mr. Parr’s presentation.
To search for upcoming events at the Civic, please visit their website at