The Joan and Irwin Jacobs Performing Arts Center Officially Breaks Ground

The NTC Foundation and Cygnet Theatre announced the groundbreaking and community fundraising campaign for The Joan and Irwin Jacobs Performing Arts Center—which will now also be referred to as “The Joan” in honor of Joan Jacobs, lead donor of this landmark project and strong supporter of San Diego’s arts community.

The Joan and Irwin Jacobs Performing Arts Center

With the public’s support, NTC Foundation and Cygnet Theatre will transform historic Naval Building 178 at ARTS DISTRICT Liberty Station into a contemporary, permanent home for Cygnet Theatre that will foster live performance, elevate the arts in San Diego, and engage audiences throughout the community with an unparalleled cultural experience for years to come.

“Breaking ground and initiating our public fundraising campaign mark pivotal strides toward establishing Cygnet Theatre’s permanent residence,” said Sean Murray, Cygnet Theatre’s Artistic Director.

“We can’t imagine a more fitting location than ARTS DISTRICT Liberty Station, and no better partners than the NTC Foundation in helping us weave this new performing arts center into the cultural fabric of our community. We are perpetually grateful to our donors to-date and the members of the public who contribute to this project in the future.”

The Joan and Irwin Jacobs Performing Arts Center

Prior to the official groundbreaking, Building 178 underwent maintenance demolition required in order to safely move forward with breaking ground and the adaptive preservation and renovations of the building. Following the groundbreaking, construction and renovations will move forward with the goal of opening in Spring 2025.

“We are thrilled to invite the public to join us in bringing The Joan to life,” said Lisa Johnson, NTC Foundation CEO. “We are so grateful to Joan and Irwin Jacobs and other lead donors, the State of California, and the National Parks Service for their generous contributions that have propelled the project to this pivotal groundbreaking point.”

Bringing the Past into the Future

Built in 1942, Building 178 is one of 26 historic buildings under the stewardship of the NTC Foundation. The renovation design will restore and retain original key elements while reimagining the space to create contemporary, functional theatres for Cygnet.

Arts District Liberty Station

The design will remove boarded-up archways, re-establish existing enclosed arcades and colonnades, and restore windows and doors that were previously shuttered.

The project will also reconstruct the entire northern portion of the building, excluding the arcade, restoring it to its original design and allowing for expansion of the basement floor level where the new proscenium theatre will be located.

Arts District Liberty Station

The updated space will include a 289-seat proscenium theatre and a 150-seat flexible studio space, as well as state-of-the-art back-of-house support spaces such as dressing rooms, two green rooms, a costume shop, dedicated rehearsal and orchestra spaces, and more.

The Joan and Irwin Jacobs Performing Arts Center

The space will also feature indoor and outdoor lobby spaces, two refreshment areas, industry-leading ADA accessibility, and a premier location at Liberty Station, near some of San Diego’s foremost dining and retail destinations.

Both theatre spaces will feature elements of flexible seating to allow for a variety of productions, as well as acoustical elements for optimal sound quality and amplification.

Long-Term Vision + Community Impact

Once opened in Spring 2025, The Joan will be a cornerstone of ARTS DISTRICT Liberty Station as the only free-standing live performance venue and the permanent home of San Diego’s third-largest theatre company, Cygnet Theatre.

This new state-of-the-art space will allow Cygnet to bring their exceptional productions to more community members than ever before and will further enhance the arts and culture landscape of San Diego.

NTC Foundation and Cygnet Theatre hope to bring 50,000 theatre attendees annually to enjoy live performances and all ARTS DISTRICT Liberty Station has to offer. The space will also provide opportunities for additional organizations to perform and engage even more audiences.

Fundraising Campaign

The Joan and Irwin Jacobs Performing Arts Center has reached 73% of its $43.5M fundraising goal thanks to pillars of San Diego’s philanthropic and cultural community, including the Jacobs family for whom the center is named, Dorothea Laub, The Conrad Prebys Foundation, and Molly Wagner.

The project has also received funding from public institutions such as the State of California and the National Parks Service, having recently received a grant from the NPS’s Save America’s Treasures Program.

Cygnet Theatre and NTC Foundation are relying on philanthropic community support to fulfill the remainder of the $43.5M total needed to complete this project. Naming opportunities are still available, and Donor Wall inclusions are available for a minimum donation of $25,000.

Donations can be made here by contacting Campaign Manager Mindy Dedominicis at 619-574-0059 x178, and all donations checks should be made payable to Building 178 Performing Arts Center and mailed to Bank of Southern California 1620 5th Avenue, Suite 120 San Diego, CA 92101.

For more information about The Joan, please visit here.

See you there, San Diego!

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