Rutland's Paramount Theatre Receives Funding for Major Expansion | Performing Arts | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Rutland's Paramount Theatre Receives Funding for Major Expansion


Published April 19, 2022 at 2:41 p.m.

Artist rendering of the planned expansion - COURTESY OF THE PARAMOUNT THEATRE
  • Courtesy of the Paramount Theatre
  • Artist rendering of the planned expansion
Rutland's Paramount Theatre is getting a major upgrade. Announced at a press conference on Monday, the 838-seat performing arts center will expand into and transform the adjacent Richardson building, adding new multi-purpose areas and facilities. The separate structures, while currently joined on the ground floor, will become more integrated as construction begins in late 2022. The project is planned to be completed by 2024.

"We have been very careful in the design process to always keep versatility as sort of the lynchpin of the whole project," Paramount executive director Eric Mallette said by phone.

The redesign of the Richardson building will be top to bottom. The fourth floor will transform into a versatile, 4,000-square-foot space with a full-service kitchen, ADA-accessible elevator and panoramic views through new windows installed on its western wall. The 200-capacity space will not have a fixed seating plan and will be used for anything from corporate events to small performances.

"The truth is, some acts don't need 830 seats," Mallette said. "If [a show is] not the right fit for the main stage, we now have a backup opportunity."

Mallette referred to the reimagined third floor as the "suite level." A number of fully outfitted rooms will be available for anything from breakout groups at conferences occupying the fourth floor to catered, private gatherings before performances.

Mallette compared the suites to private boxes at sports stadiums.

"What we're learning overall is that folks are looking for more well-rounded experiences when they attend performing arts centers today," Mallette said.

The second floor, which aligns with the balcony level of the Paramount, will offer additional guest services such as concessions and restrooms.

Mallette pointed out one of the theater's unique characteristics: Its balcony seating is slightly greater than its orchestra seating. But all guest facilities are located on the ground floor, which leads to major congestion and long lines during intermission. The second-floor expansion aims to alleviate some of that crowding.

"It just makes for a better experience," Mallette said.

The ground floor of the Richardson will be opened up from its current, "segmented" state, Mallette said. It will have "lots of room to mingle, lots of room for folks to have the pre-show conversations that maybe they want to have now, but can't because the space is limited, and it's hard to kind of find one another."

Funding for the project comes partially from congressionally directed spending secured by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). Of the $167 million earmarked for Vermont projects, $2.35 million will go to Rutland-based organizations, with $500,000 for the Paramount. Mallette said that the redesign will cost approximately $5.5 million, with the bulk of the funding coming from community partners, sponsors and members.

Mallette estimated that 65,000 people attend the Paramount per year (pandemic notwithstanding) and that visitors collectively pump about $2 million into the local economy. The expansion could bring that figure closer to $3 million, Mallette said. He referred to a 2017 study by national nonprofit Americans for the Arts, which found that the average ticket holder spends an additional $31.47 on dining, parking and other expenditures per event.

"The victory for the Paramount is a victory for our community," he said. "There simply is not another organization within the community that can tout that sort of success."

Related Locations

  • Paramount Theatre