Beck Center completes latest round of renovations, enters home stretch in $6.7 million project

March appears to be a season of celebration at Beck Center for the Arts.
In March 2020, Beck Center announced its was launching the $5.7 million public portion of its $6.7 million Raise the Roof fundraising campaign to update two buildings and raze a third building to bring the complex into the 21st century.

Then, in March 2021, the first phase of the project—the renovation of Fowler-Spellman Education Wing in the main building—was completed.

And last Friday, March 10, Beck Center announced that the latest component—the newly renovated Music & Creative Arts Therapies Building (formerly known as the Armory) is now complete. The former creative arts building will be razed in the near future.

“We were pleased to have some of Beck Center’s closest advocates and supporters with us last Thursday as we cut the ribbon on the new Center for Music and Creative Arts Therapies,” says Beck Center president and CEO Lucinda Einhouse. “So many thoughtful and generous people have come together to make this these renovations possible, which provide greater ADA accessibility, energy efficiency, and functionality.”

New signage was installed at the entrance to the Recital Hall, which now has a higher ceiling and was reconfigured for better functionality—including the creating a storage room to hide chairs and tables when they are not in use.

New theater lighting was installed, and the stage was rebuilt with more ADA accessible ramps for performers who use wheelchairs. A backstage area and kitchen were renovated for performances and special events.

At the south end of the building, faculty offices, a family restroom, and storage rooms were added, and the women’s restroom was renovated.

Music studios were reorganized to bring music therapy into one area.

<span class="content-image-text">Lakewood Mayor Meghan George</span>Lakewood Mayor Meghan GeorgeThe Fowler-Spellman Education Wing, located in the oldest part of the Beck Center campus, is in a 1915 building that was once a movie theater, storefronts, and apartments. The approximately $2 million in renovations includes a theater classroom, two visual arts classrooms, a dance studio, a ceramics studio, and an art therapy studio.

The renovated space has been reconfigured and structurally improved so that all of the classrooms are now fully ADA accessible. Stairways in classrooms leading to the basement have been eliminated and replaced with two basement stairways on either end of the building. Doorways and walls have been moved, and some of the flooring has been raised and leveled to make space more functional.

The private event on March 10  included Lakewood mayor Meghan George, county councilmember Dale Miller, U.S. senator Nickie Antonio, as well as donors and campaign volunteers, and featured a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a tour of the new facilities.

Einhouse says the celebration had to be small, because activities are already happening that the renovated arts center.

“We had to keep the number of invitees limited since the building is already being so heavily used by our students and faculty,” she explains. “Attendees got to see a few moments of a dance class before cast members of ‘Razzle Dazzle’ started to arrive.”

Since 2002, the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities (CCBDD) and Beck Center have collaborated to present Razzle Dazzle—an annual stage production featuring the talents of CCBDD consumers and volunteers. “This year they will be able to enjoy the performances in the newly renovated and fully ADA accessible Recital Hall,” exclaims Einhouse.

<span class="content-image-text">Proclamation with Cindy Einhouse Sen Nickie Antionio and Board Chair Pat Oliver.</span>Proclamation with Cindy Einhouse Sen Nickie Antionio and Board Chair Pat Oliver.While the renovations remain on schedule, the financial goals of the campaign increased during the pandemic. Te campaign totals reached $3 million by the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, and soared to more than $4 million by March 2021, but the Beck board of trustees voted to increase the goal from $5.7 million to $6.7 million to cover the rising construction costs complete the renovations.

“This turned out to be a very wise decision, since Beck Center was able to save time and money by undertaking this noisy and disruptive work while there were a limited number of people in the building,” explains Einhouse. “Therefore, we are trying to raise the remaining $1.5 million by June 2022 so that the final phase of work can be underway in 2023, when we celebrate the organization’s 90th anniversary.”

The final phases of renovation include a fully accessible entrance to the newly-named Senney Theater (in recognition of Wally and Joyce Senney’s gift of more than $1 million last year) with a marquee. When installed, the marquee will mark the entrance as a destination for live professional theater.

Other features in the final stage include new restrooms, a reconfigured customer service area, and new state-of-the-art dance studios.

Beck Center’s Creating Our Future capital campaign will continue to complete the last renovations. Design and construction partners for the project are Bialosky Cleveland and Turner Construction.

Beck Center is in the middle of its 88th Theater Season, along with a new season of Youth Theater, and more than 27 years of providing Creative Art Therapies to Northeast Ohio.

Karin Connelly Rice
Karin Connelly Rice

About the Author: Karin Connelly Rice

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.