By Seth Daniel
Mayor Martin J. Walsh on Friday joined Michael Maso, Managing Director of the Huntington Theatre Company and John Matteson of the QMG Huntington, LLC to announce a partnership that will allow the Huntington Theatre Company to continue operating in what is known as the Boston University (BU) Theatre.
“From the very beginning we have been committed to bringing the key players to the table in order to maintain the Huntington’s home on the Avenue of the Arts,” said Mayor Walsh. “The theatre’s legacy is rich and diverse, from its commitment to the works of famed African-American playwright August Wilson, to its innovative partnership with Codman Academy Charter School. The Huntington is one of Boston’s great cultural treasures. I am thankful for the shared commitment of John Matteson and his team to our goals, and I look forward to the bright future of this theatre.”
“We are deeply grateful to Mayor Walsh and his administration for their essential role in helping find a solution which will allow the Huntington to not only continue to produce ambitious, large-scale works in a renovated and expanded Huntington Avenue theatre, but also to expand and enhance our services to audience members, young people, our neighborhood, and the theatre community of Boston,” said Michael Maso, Managing Director of the Huntington Theatre Company.
“We would like to thank Mayor Walsh, his staff and the BRA for their guidance through this process,” said John Matteson of the QMG Huntington, LLC. “We would also like to thank BU for trusting us with this important property and mostly we look forward to a long relationship with the Avenue of the Arts and the new Huntington Theatre.”
“The Fenway community is so appreciative of the Mayor and his team’s accomplishment in keeping the Huntington Theatre on the Avenue of the Arts in the Fenway Cultural District,” said Kelly Brilliant, Executive Director of the Fenway Alliance, Inc. “The Huntington Theatre is a backbone not only for a dedicated, engaged arts audience in Boston, but is also a tangible presence, and intellectual and emotional touchstone in our community–the Fenway. On so many nights and afternoons, the theatre is a buzzing gathering place in the Fenway Cultural District. A great neighbor who welcomes us all, lifts our spirits and challenges our minds with fresh ideas and diverse perspectives-all in the form of powerful art.”
“Having long-term control over our mainstage theatre on a year-round basis is a huge step for the Huntington,” said Peter DuBois, Artistic Director at the Huntington Theatre Company. “It means that we can explore additional artistic programming and partnerships throughout the year, and ensures that the Huntington can nurture future generations of theatre artists and arts organizations.”
The Huntington is a local economic driver in the City of Boston, employing over 400 full-time staff members and artists and generating more than $19 million annually in economic activity.
Through its education programs, the Huntington also provides programs for more than 33,000 youth and community members annually, many of them from Boston’s neighborhoods.
In October 2015, BU and the Huntington Theatre Company announced that they would dissolve their 33-year partnership in June 2017, and the BU Theatre complex would be sold on the open market. A local development company, QMG Huntington LLC, led by John Matteson, purchased the BU Theatre complex in May 2016, and the Huntington and the developer have now agreed:
- The Huntington will gain exclusive control of the historic theatre itself and the service wing to its west, which it plans to fully renovate at its own expense;
- The Huntington will expand its lobbies and other public spaces amenities into new shell and core space to be provided by QMG;
- QMG will develop the properties that now hold the Huntington’s production center, and the Huntington will relocate its scenic, paint, and prop shops in order to another location.
More details will emerge in the coming months as the design and review process of the development is finalized, and in order to succeed the Huntington will embark on a major new capital fundraising campaign.