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Overture Center for the Arts is a performing arts center and art gallery in Madison, Wisconsinmarker, which replaced the Civic Center. The center was commissioned by Jerome Frautschi, designed by Cesar Pelli, and built by J.H. Findorff and Son. Frautschi paid $205 million to construct the building, making it the largest private gift to the arts of its kind. The center also houses the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.

The center first opened on September 19, 2004.
Main entrance to Overture Center.
The facade was originally part of Yost's Department Store.


The building has 7 venues, in addition to numerous art galleries:

Overture Hall

The 2251-seat Overture Hall is the facility's largest theater. Consisting of four levels of seats, it has a striking architectural style. The balconies are noted for their "continental-style" seating arrangement, where aisles other than those on the sides of seat rows are omitted in order to provide, according to designers, greater seat size. It also features a large, permanent organ by the German organ builder Klaismarker. The Madison Symphony Orchestra, Madison Opera, and Madison Ballet call this theater home. In addition to local Madison performing groups, a variety of touring performances have played in Overture Hall; comedian Jerry Seinfeld and musician Yo-Yo Ma are examples of nationally famous performers who have appeared here.

Capitol Theater

During Overture construction, the Oscar Mayer Theater [originally built in 1928 as a movie theater] was restored, downsized, and re-christened the Capitol Theater. Done in muted teal and fuchsia, it holds approximately 1000 people in the main floor and balcony. Original to the theater is an organ built by Oshkosh's Barton Organ Company. Resident companies include the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and CTM Madison Family Theatre, although some traveling shows (usually concerts) occasionally perform there.

The theater's inaugural performance upon reopening took place on November 4, 2005.


This smaller, intimate performance space replaced the former Isthmus Playhouse. It was renovated with the Madison Repertory Theatre in mind as its resident company[137837], and was occupied by Madison Rep until its closure in March 2009.[137838]

Promenade Hall

This is a smaller room featuring bleachers in the walls which can convert it to a performance space. Kanopy Dance is its resident company.

Rotunda Stage

This room, located in the lower level, is used for the center's Kids in the Rotunda performances. The only venue accessible to the public during regular hours, it features a bright, distinct color scheme of fuchsia walls and floors, as well as permanent audience riser seats. It is also a venue for banquets, meetings and other performances.

Wisconsin Studio & Rotunda Studio

These two venues are used mainly for rehearsals and meetings.

Visual Art Galleries

The center also contains four visual art galleries. The Overture Galleries feature a variety of exhibits by local and state artists and organizations.

In addition, the center houses the James Watrous Gallery, which is operated by the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. This gallery features larger exhibits and installations from regional artists.

Both galleries are open to the public.


Much like Monona Terracemarker, the Overture has been the subject of several controversies. After Frautschi's initial gift, some citizens complained that the City of Madison's priorities were skewed. Others said the project would hurt the image of nearby State Street. Still others believed it would be accessible only to the wealthy while limiting access to local and smaller acts and artists.[137839]

After initial construction of the center, concerns were raised over additional funding. Citizens became concerned that as the economy slowed down Overture's reserve funds would decrease. As this happened, the potential was raised for the City of Madison to step in to maintain funding levels. Some were worried that a project that was supposed to be private would become an unnecessary burden to taxpayers. These fears were exacerbated by the liquidation of the trust fund that was set up to pay the construction debt for the building as well as provide some operating income.[137840] The liquidation left some construction debt that will be paid by a number of parties, and forced the center to cut staff due to the loss of the operating income.

See also

External links

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