$5 million gift puts Emery Theater Campaign Close to the Finish Line
The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati’s fundraising goal to reimagine the Emery Theater is in reach thanks to a $5 million gift from Carl and Martha Lindner. The funds will directly benefit the restoration of the landmark Emery Theater as TCT’s permanent MainStage home in downtown Cincinnati and create a state-of-the-art venue unlike any in the region. This gift is a testament to the family’s legacy of enabling transformational projects in our city’s vibrant urban core. Generations of Lindner’s have helped establish the Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati as a national leader in performing arts for young audiences.
The Grand Entrance, the theater’s primary public entrance on Walnut Street where all patrons will enter for MainStage productions and special events, will be officially named – “Martha S. Lindner Grand Entrance.”
The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati (TCT) is well underway with a transformational campaign, A Crown for the Queen City, to raise $49.5 million, enhancing access to theatre for families and young children from throughout the region and ensuring its future as a premiere arts organization.
Allison Kropp, Campaign Co-Chair, expressed her appreciation and excitement for this significant contribution. “TCT is overwhelmed by the generosity of Carl and Martha Lindner,” Kropp said. “We are now so close to realizing our dream to see children’s imaginations come alive as they experience this historic space and create lifetime memories of pure joy, wonder, and family—for generations to come.”
“We are so grateful to Carl and Martha Lindner for their exceptional gift,” said Kim Kern, Managing Director and CEO of The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati. “TCT envisions a space that belongs to the community, allowing us to provide arts access, education, and foundational well-being to the families and students of our region and across the Midwest. This gift allows us to revitalize a treasured cultural asset, provide a permanent home for children’s theatre in Cincinnati’s vibrant urban core, and put Cincinnati on the map as a family theatrical destination.”
What TCT imagines is not simply a restoration but a reinvention of the theater into a modern and memorable venue equipped with the latest technology that both inspires and teaches. TCT’s plans to incorporate the most modern technology, a turntable stage lift, an automated fly system, a 40′ x 60′ video wall, and projection mapping will provide an immersive audience experience and overcome backstage and wing space limitations.
With The Emery as its home, TCT will unlock its potential to inspire diverse audiences with original works and even more innovative programming. TCT will also expand programming for younger children (theatre for the very young) and teenagers, with work considered a revenue risk in its current rented space.
After the completion of fundraising and construction, The Children’s Theatre plans to open the Emery in Fall 2025 with its 2025-2026 MainStage season.
History of The Emery Theater
Imagined by philanthropist Mary Emery and designed by the famed architectural firm of Samuel Hannaford & Sons, the Emery Auditorium opened in January 1912 with an inaugural concert by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. The acoustically exceptional 2,200-seat theater in Over-the-Rhine was once considered one of the top concert halls in the country. Sergei Rachmaninoff, John Philip Sousa, George Gershwin, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bette Davis, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. all stood on the Emery stage at various points in its history.
The Emery was also the performance home of TCT until 1969, when the University of Cincinnati took ownership of the property and ran it as the College of Applied Sciences until 1989. The theater was used for films, lectures, and meetings for the next decade. While the building’s upper floors were developed as apartments in 2001, the theater has fallen into disrepair since that time. TCT is the Emery Theater’s best hope to be restored to its former glory and to regain its place as a memorable and iconic arts venue.
About The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati
Celebrating 104 years this season, The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati (TCT) is the oldest professional theatre for young audiences in the country, creating lifelong memories and lasting impact for children and families for more than a century. TCT brings art to life through three divisions: TCT MainStage productions, TCT on Tour/WorkShops, and TCT Academy. TCT draws more than 100,000 youth and adults to its MainStage productions, over 50,000 K-8 students to TCT on Tour Shows, and 1,200 students participate in TCT Academy. Each season, 60,000 students attend TCT MainStage productions with their schools. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer JR., the company’s 2022 holiday show, was the highest-grossing production in the history of TCT. This video offers a glimpse into the scope and vibrancy of programming offered by TCT.
Delivering much more than entertainment, TCT offers an inclusive space and innovative programming for children and adults to learn confidence, patience, and imagination. TCT’s partnerships with regional schools allow thousands of students each year to reap the lifelong benefits of a quality arts education that they might otherwise not experience.