Lynn ‘Breaks In’ Future Site of Wold Performing Arts Center

Lynn Philharmonia gives surprise serenade at curtain drop
Lynn ‘Breaks In’ Future Site of Wold Performing Arts Center

Published Nov. 25, 2008

Lynn University broke ground on the future site of the Keith C. and Elaine Johnson Wold Performing Arts Center last week, Nov. 19, with a surprise unveiling, major gift announcement and lots of enthusiasm. Among the late afternoon ceremony’s surprises: the announcement of more than $2 million in additional pledges in support of the Wold Performing Arts Center and a finale punctuated by a curtain drop and performance by the full Lynn Philharmonia. (Event photos and building renderings are available online; high resolution copies are available upon request.)

Foregoing a shovel-heavy ceremony for a more theatrical event, university officials used the late afternoon groundbreaking to honor the vision and support of lead donor Elaine J. Wold, who has committed $9.3 million for construction of the theater that will bear her – and her late husband’s – name. Lynn President Kevin M. Ross opened the ceremony with a word of thanks to Mrs. Wold.

“Today we are here to celebrate Elaine and her late husband Keith’s vision – built upon their love for the performing arts,” Ross said. “The new performing arts center will not just serve our campus, but the entire community. It will be a center for teaching and learning; expression and entertainment. A place for our students, staff, faculty, friends and neighbors to come together.”

Following Ross’s comments, the assembled crowd heard from Conservatory of Music Dean Jon Robertson, Florida’s “First Lady of Theater” Jan McArt, and Boca Raton Mayor Susan Whelchel. But the final slot in the event’s schedule was reserved for Mrs. Wold herself, and the donors who had joined her in her vision of creating a performing arts hub on Lynn’s campus.

Before a crowd of friends, students and employees of the university, President Ross delivered on his October promise of sharing “big news” at the ceremony when he announced $2.15 million in additional pledges to the university. The gifts were in answer to Wold’s $2.3 million challenge grant, which requires that fundraising for the $14.3 million center be completed by December 2009.

Among the donors recognized were:

  • Christine E. Lynn, chairman of the Lynn Board of Trustees, who contributed $500,000 toward the naming of the center’s salon
  • Harold and Mary Perper ($1 million) to name the orchestra and mezzanine seating
  • Ben Olewine ($250,000) to name the entrance garden
  • George and Wilma Elmore with a gift of $100,000
Other donors include:
  • Janice Middlebrook to name the box seats, left
  • Mary Anna Fowler to name the scenery show
  • Yvonne Boice to name the box office
  • David and Lucy Long to name the refreshment area
  • Chris and Deanna Wheeler to name the costume storage area
  • And an anonymous gift to name the theatre development office

Following a word of thanks and recognition for these donors, the several hundred attendees were treated to their first taste of what the future site will look and sound like. On a 50-by-70 foot stage built specifically for the event, Ross, Wold and the other donors pulled back the curtain to reveal the entire, seated Conservatory of Music’s Philharmonia in black tie, who gave a rousing six-minute ovation in honor of the occasion.

Ross then closed the event saying, “Today we had the opportunity to come together to celebrate new beginnings and the unveiling of the future of Lynn.  Thank you again Elaine and all of our generous benefactors and everyone else for making that future possible.”

Additional details:

In honor of her late husband, Keith C. Wold, Elaine Johnson Wold began supporting Lynn’s theatre arts program in 2003 with a $1 million gift that created the Keith C. Wold, MD Memorial Fund for the Development of Theatre Arts. In May of 2007, the university publicly announced Elaine J. Wold’s gift of $6 million toward the construction of The Keith C. and Elaine Johnson Wold Performing Arts Center. In his State of the University address last month, Ross announced that Wold had more recently made an additional $2.3 million challenge grant in support of the theatre.

The 750-seat Wold Performing Arts Center will be home to live theatrical performances by the university's theatre arts program and professional Live at Lynn series, as well as Conservatory of Music concerts and other university-hosted events. The center will feature superb acoustics, a modern lighting system, a large, light-filled lobby, and flexible space well-suited for dramatic productions, concerts, and other cultural events. With an elegant salon, outdoor sunset terrace and intimate rehearsal studio, this transformational new center will offer opportunities for teaching, learning and performing.

The center is scheduled to be completed in December 2009.