DuPont to sell its theatre to The Grand

 (photo courtesy DuPont Theatre)

(photo courtesy DuPont Theatre)

The DuPont company will sell its theatre business to The Grand Opera House.

The sale of the theatre business, its related assets and lease of the building is expected to close on Jan. 20. Terms of the agreement are confidential.

Once the transaction is closed, the DuPont Theatre will be renamed The Playhouse on Rodney Square. 

“This agreement represents a strategic and mutually beneficial business decision for DuPont and The Grand, and we are confident it will continue the theatre’s legacy and provide an even greater entertainment experience for the community,” said DuPont Chair and CEO Ellen Kullman.

“We are thrilled by the opportunity to take over operation of this respected Wilmington arts institution,” said Skip Pennella, chair of The Grand’s board of directors. “We strongly believe that we can enhance its already impressive history for a new generation of audiences.”

The Grand’s Executive Director Mark Fields said the chemical company approached The Grand, kicking off months of discussion ahead of today’s announcement.

“They thought that we had the ability to operate the space in a way that would be consistent with its great history and we agreed,” Fields said.

DuPont said it will continue to manage the theatre until the deal closes, adding the sale will have no impact on the remainder of the 2014-2015 Broadway season, subscriptions or ticket prices. Once the transition is complete, however, The Grand will communicate directly to all subscribers and patrons. 

“I think the greatest opportunity that this presents for the arts-attending public is it’s going to be more choices,” said Fields, whose intention is to continue the Broadway programming at the historic theatre. “But we want to add more programming at The Playhouse in addition to what we’re doing at The Grand.”  

Fields said he will begin conversations with current theatre employees in the coming weeks, but said no specific decisions have been made concerning growing The Grand’s personnel numbers.

The DuPont Theater opened in 1913 and has held onto the title of oldest continually operating theatre in the country. 

A longtime champion of the arts, philanthropist Tatiana Copeland said, “I see greater strength for the The Grand and The Playhouse through this consolidation, and I hope it serves as an inspiration for an even greater partnership in the future, between arts groups and also with the private sector and all levels of government.”

Copeland helped facilitate the discussions between the two groups. 

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