Signs promoting the revitalized Music Hall started popping up around Cincinnati in October. Never has our city experienced such abundance in the arts scene as in 2017. The HELLO GORGEOUS campaign announced that on October 6th, our community’s crown jewel, Music Hall reopened to the public. Home of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO), the Cincinnati Opera, May Festival and the Cincinnati Ballet, Music Hall has undergone a $143 million renovation and tops an extraordinary season of openings—the brand new Otto M. Budig Theatre at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, renovated and expanded Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, and the lovingly renovated Memorial Hall. The arts district around Washington Park in Over-the-Rhine is not only stunning, it’s humming with activity.
Behind the scenes for the past five years, Ignite Philanthropy, led by Scott Provancher, President and CEO, and Vice President Staci Dennison, fueled the fundraising for the Music Hall Revitalization Company (MHRC), the non-profit formed to manage the renovation. In partnership with MHRC, 3CDC, the Society for the Preservation of Music Hall, Cincinnati Arts Association, CSO, Opera, Ballet and May Festival, Music Hall’s renovation is nearly a decade in the making.
Thanks to the fundraising prowess of MHRC Chairman Otto Budig, and Board members Mu Sinclaire and Dudley Taft, as well as the Ignite Philanthropy team, Music Hall’s renovation is fully funded through a combination of state and local tax dollars, tax credits, and nearly $80 million in private philanthropy.
“We developed a strategy that engaged and inspired some of our region’s most philanthropic families and companies to take ownership of Music Hall’s success,” according to Provancher. “We didn’t just focus on the mega gifts; we launched several grassroots efforts focused on donors of all levels.” In the end thousands of donors gave to this historic project, thirty of which gave $1 million or more.
“We also had amazing participation from local and state government, with $20 million from the City of Cincinnati, $10 million from the State of Ohio capital budget, and nearly $50 million in State Historic Tax Credits,” said Provancher. Toward the end of the campaign, some foundations and individuals gave a second or even third time, so all details of the renovation could be funded without incurring debt. “The enthusiasm never waned. Everyone knew that we only had one shot at doing the renovation at the level befitting this community icon which anchors our arts community,” said Provancher.
“Ignite functioned as the CEO of the fundraising strategy and the firm also managed all the nitty gritty of campaign implementation,” notes Provancher. “It was exciting to see all our strategy and hard work pay off at the events marking the Grand Reopening weekend of Oct. 5–7. From start to finish, it’s a project I am incredibly honored to be part of. Together with hundreds of volunteers, donors, architects, construction crews and acousticians, we made history.”