Referred to by many as "Shakespeare's Home in Central Park" given its duties as the host stage of the Public Theater's beloved free Shakespeare in the Park experience, the Delacorte Theater is getting a much-needed upgrade.
News about the renovations first started making headlines back in 2018, when the Public Theater announced its desire for the upgrade. The plans turned into more solid ones during the 2020 stay-at-home orders, during which the team behind the effort was able to meet with both community members and stakeholders to lay out the specifics. (Fun fact: Did you know that to make any changes within Central Park-related institutions, approval from every single community board that borders the park is needed? Sounds like a nightmare, indeed.)
The Public Theater, the Central Park Conservancy and the NYC Parks Department together unveiled the official project proposal this week.
"The renovation of The Delacorte is not optional," reads the official press release announcing the news. "The deteriorating structure is in dire need of rebuilding to provide upgraded and more comfortable conditions for staff, artists and audiences alike. It lacks modern back-of-house theatrical operations and does not ensure equitable access for those living with disabilities."
The revamp is expected to tackle a variety of issues: from the revitalization of the space's exterior to lighting, sustainability and fire alarm system improvements, plus accessibility for audiences and artists living with disabilities, the plan is an all-encompassing one that will likely cost $77 million. According to reports, the Mayor, City Council and Manhattan Borough President will contribute $41 million and the rest of the budget will be raised privately.
Ennead Architects, the same firm that directed the reconstruction of the Brooklyn Museum, Jazz at Lincoln Center and the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History has been tapped to help with the design of the upgraded space.
As for time frame, depending on approvals, the staff expects to begin work in the fall of 2022. Shakespeare in the Park is about to get that much more exciting.