The Country Music Association has pledged $10 million to Working on a Building: Country Music Lives Here, the capital campaign that will finance the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum’s expansion from 140,000 square feet to more than 350,000 square feet. The donation is the largest philanthropic gift in the not-for-profit educational organization’s history.
In 1961, the CMA Board of Directors approved the establishment of the Country Music Hall of Fame honor to recognize noteworthy individuals for their outstanding contributions to the format. In 1964, CMA organized the not-for-profit Country Music Foundation (CMF) for the purpose of “establishing a museum and archives for the preservation and exhibition of historical and cultural materials and exhibits within the field of Country Music and to make the same available to students, researchers, and the general public.”
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum opened in 1967. Since then, CMA has contributed nearly $5 million to the Museum, including a $1 million endowment to their flagship school program Words & Music, and underwriting for the Museum’s annual Medallion Ceremony, which has served as the official rite of induction for CMA’s new Hall of Fame members since 2007. CMA is proud to be one of the Museum’s most generous and consistent benefactors.
“CMA and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum are connected by history and our shared interest in preserving the legacy, rewarding excellence, and advancing the future of the format,” said Steve Moore, CMA Chief Executive Officer. “This donation is the latest example of CMA’s longstanding commitment to the Hall of Fame. We are proud to support the growth of the Hall and we look forward to using the CMA Theater in a variety of ways that will shine a spotlight on the Country Music industry and format.”
The Museum’s expansion will include the 800-seat state-of-the-art CMA Theater, which is designed to be flexible and adaptable for a broad range of activities from concerts and films to lectures and corporate meetings.
“Beyond the impressive amount of this gift, it represents a major milestone in the life and history of the place known around the world as ‘Music City,'” said Museum Board Member John Seigenthaler, founder, First Amendment Center. “It reflects back on this community’s cultural history and the contributions of the Country Music Association and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum as we envision a future enriched by our legacy as a center of music, entertainment, and tourism.”
“We are indebted to the CMA for a gift that serves our educational mission, benefits Music City, and serves a worldwide audience,” said Museum Director Kyle Young. “In Nashville, the CMA Theater’s seating capacity is unique and will fill a gap in available performance halls. It is sure to become a coveted venue for touring artists in many genres of music and it will be recognized as one of Music City’s cultural crown jewels.
“In addition to expanding the size and number of our own educational programs, the CMA Theater will give us the additional opportunity to partner with other cultural organizations such as the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, the Belcourt Theater, and Nashville’s downtown library,” Young said.
“We anticipate that the theater will be a critical asset to both the Music City Center and the Omni Hotel, whose clients will need convenient access to a theater like this for speakers, programs, performances, and other events throughout the year,” Young said. “These activities could easily keep the theater booked 250 days a year.”
The CMA Theater’s sound and lighting is by Fisher Dachs, renowned internationally for their work with technically superior and highly functional theaters, opera houses, concert halls, and arts education facilities. Their work includes intimate settings such as repertory theaters like Shakespeare’s Globe, the Guthrie and Arena Stage; major venues such as Radio City Music Hall and the Hollywood Bowl; as well as symphony halls including the Schermerhorn.
The television-ready CMA Theater will feature a 500-seat main floor and two balconies of 150 seats each, ensuring that sight lines are unimpeded for audiences of 500, 650, or 800-seat events. The theater’s back-of-house will include a green room, band room, and four dressing rooms. Exterior signage on Fifth Avenue South will make the theater visible and accessible to patrons of the 1.2 million-square-foot Music City Center. The lobby entrance will also connect with the 800-room Omni Hotel.
With Country Music Hall of Fame member Kris Kristofferson and Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford as honorary co-chairs, the Museum launched its $75 million Working on a Building campaign in late July with $56.8 million in cash and pledges already secured. Designed by Tuck-Hinton Architects, the expansion is expected to be completed in early 2014.
Source: Country Music Association
Photo Courtesy of Tuck-Hinton Architects / Provided by Country Music Association