Six years after the Westwood Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation coordinated the transfer of the former Cincinnati Bell switching center to Madcap Puppets, the new Madcap Education Center has celebrated its gala opening.
The new $3.4 million arts education facility will host dance, acting, puppet and visual arts classes and workshops as well as children’s performances in a theater designed for family enjoyment.
Madcap Puppets have been planning the Center since the Westwood Community Urban Redevelopment Corporation (WestCURC) purchased the building for the organization in 2012. The Center becomes a “home base” for the touring company and a venue for expanded children’s programming on the west side, including special events and arts education classes, workshops and summer camps.
In March 2017, Cincinnati Landmark Productions and Madcap Puppets announced a merger of the two venerable west-side arts organizations and a re-invigoration of the”Bell Building” project, at the corner of Harrison Avenue and Urwiler Avenue.
At the merger announcement, CLP announced new funding – the allocation of New Markets Tax Credits from Cincinnati Development Fund – that would make the project possible. Since that time, CLP has partnered with US Bank and the City of Cincinnati to finalize the New Markets deal.
The City of Cincinnati had planned and previously budgeted $4 million for the renovation of Westwood Square, the land around Westwood Town Hall. Upgrades include new landscaping and seating, the addition of an event stage area, a promenade for event vendors, a new playground area and a dog park, effectively activating a space that serves as the center of the city’s largest neighborhood. In December, CLP officials presented and received approval from the Cincinnati Planning Commission, Park Board and City Council to bundle the two projects together in order to maximize the New Markets benefit.
On December 29, 2017, the financing deal was closed, resulting in $2.1 million net benefit for the Madcap Education Center project. With that and other recent funding, the project could officially break ground. Interior demolition began in February 2018 with full renovation/construction starting in April.
Cincinnati Landmark Productions (CLP) is the non-profit owner and operator of the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts in West Price Hill and the Warsaw Federal Incline Theater in East Price Hill. Madcap Puppets – based in Westwood – has provided touring children’s programming since 1981 and annually presents over 600 performances across 15 states for 160,000 children. Since the merger, Madcap Puppets has operated as a division of Cincinnati Landmark Productions and will continue to tour and offer its in-town programming.