6702 Detroit Ave, Cleveland, OH 44102

HISTORY

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First Show in New Building Opens!

Shrek, the Musical opens on April 24th, 2015 to a sold out crowd, then enjoys an extended four-weekend, sold out run. It is the first show to be produced in our new home at 6702 Detroit Avenue.

Shrek the Musical, Spring 2015

April, 2015
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Move On! Documentary Film Debuts at Cleveland International Film Festival

On Sunday, March 22, 2015 Move On! debuts at the Capitol Theatre as part of the 40th Annual Cleveland International Film Festival. This documentary by Cleveland filmmaker Ted Sikora follows the ins and outs of Near West's final production at St. Patrick's Club Building before moving on to our new home. The film has since gone on to other film festivals both in and outside of Ohio, winning a Best Local Film award along the way!

Image from Move On! documentary film by Ted Sikora

March, 2015
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New Near West Theatre Building Opens!

The new Near West Theatre at 6702 Detroit Avenue opens for business late February, 2015.

People gather at Near West Theatre Community Open House ceremony of lights on February 28th, 2015. An estimated 1,000 people visit the building for this event.

2015
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Construction on New Building Launches

Construction for Near West’s new $7.3 million building launches with anticipated completion of December, 2014

2014
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Final Show in St. Pat's Club Building Performed by Near West Theatre Alumni Cast

Move On! stage production, Summer 2014

Summer, 2014
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Founder Earns Arts Award

Executive Director & Founder, Stephanie Morrison Hrbek earns the first-ever Arts Award from Young Audiences (now Center for Arts-Inspired Learning)

September, 2013
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Gordon Square Arts District’s Community Arts Leaders win the Bergman Prize from the Cleveland Arts Prize

The Gordon Square Arts District’s leadership including Executive Director & Founder, Stephanie Morrison Hrbek, wins the Bergman Prize from the Cleveland Arts Prize.

June, 2010
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Founder Wins Cleveland Arts Prize

Executive Director & Founder, Stephanie Morrison Hrbek, wins Martha Joseph Cleveland Arts Prize for Distinguished Service to the Arts.

June, 2009
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Gordon Square Arts District Campaign is Launched

The Gordon Square Arts District (GSAD) Campaign is launched under Executive Director Joy Roller with Honorary Chairs Tom Sullivan, Dick Pogue, and Albert Ratner in collaboration with Councilman Matt Zone, Cleveland Public Theatre, Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization, and Near West Theatre. GSAD was established as a joint capital campaign to revitalize the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood using the arts as the economic catalyst.

2007
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Gordon Square Arts District is Formed

James Levin of Cleveland Public Theatre shares his vision to form the Gordon Square Arts District as a partnership between Cleveland Public Theatre, Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization, and Near West Theatre.

2007
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Near West Theatre Selected as First Champion in Action

Near West Theatre is selected as Charter One Bank & Fox 8 TV’s Champion in Action, the first-ever in Ohio.

January, 2006
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Near West Theatre Offices Move

Near West Theatre moves its offices from its shared office with Cleveland Mediation Center to the Gordon Square Arcade (West 65th and Detroit), just steps from the site of its future home.

December, 2005
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Design For New Building is Completed

NWT completes its conceptual design for future home on West 67th and Detroit with Richard Fleischman & Partners Architects

May, 2005
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Near West Theatre is Awarded Financial and Business Support

NWT was selected by Cleveland Social Venture Partners (CSVP) as their second-ever investee, awarding financial and business support through 2006

September, 2003
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Near West Theatre Receives Governor's Award

Near West receives the Governor’s Award for the Arts in Community Development and Participation, the first-ever recipient of this award.

March, 2003
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West Side Arts Consortium is Formed

Near West Theatre, Cleveland Public Theatre, Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization, Art House, and SPACES form the West Side Arts Consortium and apply jointly to State Capital Projects Budget and earn a $250,000 grant

2002
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Near West Theatre becomes an Independent 501(c)3 Organization and Forms its First Governing Board

February, 1999
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Stephanie Morrison Hrbek becomes Executive Director and Bob Navis Jr becomes Artistic Director

Bye Bye Birdie, Spring 1999

1999
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Near West Theatre Expands Staff

With major support from the Gund Foundation, Cleveland Foundation, and Eleanor Gerson Supporting Foundation, NWT expanded its staff.

1999
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Near West Theatre & the West Side Community Mental Health Center Produce "Breaking Through"

Near West Theatre and the West Side Community Mental Health Center produce “Breaking Through,” an oral history play designed to destigmatize mental illness. The play tours for two years with the support of the Cuyahoga County Mental Health Board and receives a state award. It is then developed into a video with Cinecraft Productions and wins three national awards.

1991-1995
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Near West Theatre Utilizes Administrative Support of West Side Ecumenical Ministry

1989-1998
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Near West Side Community Theatre becomes Near West Theatre

Near West Side Community Theatre launches its new organizational name, Near West Theatre.

This summer, Near West produces a revue entitled, "When We Only Have Love" and Rick Tyler joins the orchestra pit as percussionist. With few exceptions, Rick has played almost every performance since 1988.

1988
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First Fall Intergenerational Production is Performed

Near West launches its first fall, intergenerational musical under the direction of Bob Navis Jr—setting the course for continued multi-age productions.

1986
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The organization receives the Governor’s Youth Recognition Award

1985
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"The Peoples of Cleveland: Building Community" Oral History Project

Developed with the Cleveland Heritage Project of the Cleveland Public Library System, Cuyahoga Community College, and Near West Theatre, "The Peoples of Cleveland: Building Community" is written from oral history transcripts of Cleveland’s immigrant populations. The show includes music and over 150 historical slides and tours throughout Greater Cleveland in parks, malls, schools, churches and correctional facilities for over 90 performances through 1991.

June, 1983-1991
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George Hrbek and Stephanie Morrison Hrbek co-author the oral history, “The Peoples of Cleveland: Building Community” with Professor Ed Miggins of Cuyahoga Community College.

1983
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Name Changes and Programming Expands

The theater is approached by a group of adults eager to participate. Until then, the theater was uniquely a summer youth program, so an Advisory Board is formed under the leadership of Robert and Joanne Lewis to pursue funding for program expansion. As a result, Near West receives a seed grant from The George Gund Foundation to allow the theater to expand its programs to include adults.

The theater’s name changes to Near West Side Community Theatre. "Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon" is produced in 1983 with the first cast of adults under the director of Lauren Persons and Stephanie Morrison Hrbek.

Still from Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon

1982-1983
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Bob Navis Jr Joins as Musical Director

Bob Navis Jr joined the summer youth theater program as the Musical Director. Once on board, a leadership team of Associate Directors was established with Stephanie Morrison Hrbek, Lauren Persons, and Bob Navis Jr.

The program was called the Near West Side Shared Ministry Youth Theatre and began attracting more and more young people.

Still from Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope

Summer, 1980
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Lauren Persons Joins the Theatre

Lauren Persons joins Morrison Hrbek to co-direct the summer production.

The Me Nobody Knows, Summer 1979

1979
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First Show is Performed!

13 teenagers, 11- to 16-years old performed “Godspell” to great community response

Godspell, Summer 1978

August, 1978
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Stephanie Morrison Co-Founds Near West Side Shared Ministry Youth Theatre

Stephanie Morrison, along with Rev. George Hrbek and Father Robert Scullin, co-founds the Near West Side Shared Ministry Youth Theatre. Stephanie directs the first production, Godspell, with Richard Schenk as Musical Director, in the summer of 1978.

Stephanie during rehearsal of Godspell

May, 1978
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First Seeds Are Planted

Father Robert Scullin of St. Patrick’s Church and Rev. George Hrbek conceived a summer theater program for local kids to perform for adults so that young people could be seen as contributing members of the community.
The theatre’s first budget: $800 from a City grant.

1978

What's Happening Now at Near West Theatre?