The Athenaeum Theatre to Reopen as Athenaeum Center for Thought and Culture
The newly formed Athenaeum Center for Thought and Culture (ACTC), home to Chicago's oldest continuously operating off-Loop theatre, announced its reopening under new leadership with a reinvigorated mission and a renewed commitment to the community. The building, located at 2936 N Southport Ave, will soon undergo a $4 million renovation to include a new state-of-the-art events space on the ground floor.
The Athenaeum Center for Thought and Culture will offer a new unique, state-of-the-art event space in the heart of Chicago for pre and post show events, conferences, lectures, and other gatherings. The event space, designed by John Ronan Architects, will start construction soon and is expected to be completed in the spring of 2022. The gorgeous, hardwood space will hold up to 168 seated guests and will include a bar and AV systems. Renovations to the historic Main Stage Theatre, as well as new black box studios are being designed by Charcoalblue and are planned for the coming years as part of this broad philanthropic endeavor.
In keeping with long-standing tradition, ACTC will continue to offer accessible performance and rehearsal spaces to local arts organizations and, as a vibrant cultural center located on the northside, it will function as an integral part of its neighborhood and the city of Chicago. The ACTC will foster a broader vision through its own programming, inviting people to encounter beauty in one of Chicago's most unique artistic and civic buildings.
The Athenaeum Center for Thought and Culture will launch its programming on November 14, 2021 at 3:00pm with a kickoff event, Dante 360, featuring art historian Elizabeth Lev and the renowned vocal ensemble, Schola Antiqua, celebrating the Year of Dante through music, performance and art inspired by the great Italian poet. Details for this event exploring the significance of the world's most famous epic poem and its author, the illustrious Dante Alighieri, can be found at www.athenaeumcenter.org/dante
ACTC will soon announce additional events and opportunities, including its Founding Member Club as part of a broader fundraising and membership initiative.
The leadership team for the Athenaeum Center for Thought and Culture includes Executive Director Lawrence Daufenbach and Associate Director Katie Joy Daufenbach, alongside an Advisory Board and Committee that include local members such as JR Sullivan and Jeff Parker. Daufenbach comments, "The Athenaeum has been an integral part of this community since the early twentieth century, touching countless lives as it offered people a space to gather, learn, celebrate and grow together. We're honored and excited to build on that legacy and continue to give back to the community. We have so many exciting plans to support that mission, including new, original programming and expanded activity in the building, especially with the gorgeous new event space. We will continue the tradition of being an integral part of the arts community in Chicago by remaining accessible and open to our resident theater, dance and arts organizations."
Fr. Steven Bauer, Pastor of St. Alphonsus next door, comments, "The Athenaeum has been an important part of Chicago history since the early twentieth century, touching countless lives as it offered people a space to gather, learn, celebrate and grow together. We're honored and excited to have ACTC build on that legacy and continue to give back to the community, including our parishioners, neighbors and all of Chicagoland."
Lawrence Daufenbach (Executive Director) has worked in the creative, film, and entertainment industry for over twelve years. He is the founder of Daufenbach Camera, a Chicago based full-service rental house that specializes in motion picture camera equipment rentals. It has grown to become the largest locally founded and owned camera house in Chicago. Lawrence previously has also worked as a cinematographer and serves on a number of industry boards.
The mission of the Atheneum Center for Thought and Culture is to invite people into encounters with beauty and to revitalize the great Catholic tradition of the arts from one of Chicago's most unique, religious, artistic and civic buildings. Since opening in 1911 by the Redemptorist Fathers of St. Alphonsus as "a home for the intellectual, physical, and spiritual growth," the Athenaeum has been setting the stage for beauty. It has continually served as a place for beauty, community, and the arts and continues the legacy and history of the original St. Alphonsus Athenaeum and the Athenaeum Theatre.