foundation looks to transform masonic space into technologically advanced media center

The imposing brick structure of the Cleveland Masonic and Performance Arts Center (CMPAC) has stood in Midtown Cleveland for a century. A local charity seeking to purchase the building sees a unique opportunity to harness CMPAC's historic legacy and create something new and distinctive. 

The Mason Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization structured "to promote the arts and academic excellence in Northeast Ohio," is working to buy the facility, which it would refurbish into a technologically advanced media center while also improving the performance space.

"We want to elevate the entire community," says foundation founder Gregory Mason, pointing to CMPAC's Midtown location as virtually equidistant to downtown and University Circle.

The foundation is now involved in engineering and architecture surveys on the site. The building's current owner is the Cleveland chapter of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, and Mason believes his organization will be ready to purchase the facility before the end of the year.

The centerpiece of the new venture is the "Towne Hall," a 24/7 data center and public space participants can use to access civic and library resources. Other plans include renovating CMPAC's "acoustically perfect" performance space, while the building would also host creative arts classes. Current tenants like the American Red Cross would remain and could even benefit from Mason Foundation backing, says the organization founder.

"We want to help nonprofits reach some of the resources they can't access now," Mason says.

Restoration will cost $30 million, a figure Mason hopes to accrue through grants, donors and private investors. The cost is worth it to unite civic, academic and arts resources in one place, Mason believes.
SOURCE: Gregory Mason
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth
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