The Theatre of Tomorrow Wasn't Built Yesterday
The third-annual TEDYouth Conference held at the Civic Theatre in 2013.
Transformation. It’s a word that describes New Orleans -- and its oldest surviving theatre -- in more ways than one.
Once a popular and magnificent venue, the Civic Theatre had sat idle and decaying for decades. Immediately following Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans began its long ascent out of the disaster to the rhythm of sawing and hammering, eyes fixed on the future. Here was an unprecedented opportunity to not just rebuild, but to reimagine what one of America’s beloved cities could become.
In 2011, a handful of visionaries came together with a similar plan to recreate the Civic, a Beaux Arts style venue built in 1906. The goal? Transform the historic theatre into a fresh, versatile and modern event venue.
Developers Brian Gibbs, Bryan Bailey, and Solomon Group took painstaking efforts to meticulously preserve the Civic’s historical integrity throughout the process. While bringing back the theatre’s former majesty, the trio relied on Solomon Group’s unique expertise to incorporate the most innovative, technologically-advanced A/V integration and show control systems of any theatre in the Gulf South.
Every aspect was considered during the development, from the architectural, LED lighting that can change the look of the room, to the way power and data are distributed throughout the space. Custom, white L’Acoustics Kiva Concert line arrays were used in order to blend seamlessly into the room. And perhaps the ultimate example of the theatre’s flexibility lies in the floor, where a NIVOFlex, air-assisted staging system was installed. The Civic’s floor can be quickly and easily configured to accommodate open plans for concerts, runways for fashion shows, theater seating for performances and virtually any other layout imaginable.
The result? Though the conversion took just one year, event planners from all over were clamoring to use the Civic Theatre even before work was complete. Two months after opening, Comedy Central used the venue to tape live, one-hour stand-up specials for comedians Steve Rannazzisi, Neal Brennan and Chris D’Elia across three consecutive nights. In July 2013, the Civic hosted a corporate event for William Grant & Sons during Tales of the Cocktail, which BizBash calls one of the “Top 100 Events in the United States.” TED, the nonprofit known for "Ideas Worth Spreading," chose the Civic to host its third-annual TEDYouth Conference. And NYC concert promoters The Bowery Presents partnered with the Civic Theatre to launch perhaps the most aggressive concert programming New Orleans has ever seen, featuring a 2013 fall lineup that included performances by Russell Brand, Black Crowes, Passion Pit and more.
Its immediate and growing success is attributed to the way the developers renovated the Civic to serve as a multipurpose venue that could morph over time. A space made to ebb and flow so that each event it hosts looks as though it was designed to be there. And like the city of New Orleans, the Civic Theatre continues its transformation, reinventing itself as an entertainment destination through the events and visitors it serves.
It is the country’s first, modern historic theatre.
Lead System Designer: Stephen Fink
Lighting System Designer: John Jenkinson - Bandit Lites
Sound System Designer: Jay Taylor
- L’Acoustics Kiva Concert PA System
- (1) Midas Pro1 Console with 48×16 Stage Box
- (2) Shure UHF-R Wireless Systems
- Fiber, Cat6 and RG-6 Cable Infrastructure Throughout Venue
- (96) Channel ETC Sensor Dimmer
- (40) Source 4 Lekos
- (40) Chauvet Colorado 2 Zoom LED Wash Fixture
- (90) Iluminarc Ilumipod Logic Tri-4 RGB Fixture
- ETC Paradigm System
- ETC Ion
- Nivoflex Air-Assisted Staging System