Stambaugh Launches Restoration Project

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – In 2021, Stambaugh Auditorium began the renovation of its exterior, raised $2.5 million in funding, and launched a summer arts camp.

The venue’s Digital Concert Hall app, launched in 2020, continued to offer a virtual platform for entertainment as the pandemic-driven shutdown of venues lingered.

As concert halls reopened in the second half of 2021, the app offered ticket-buyers the option to attend shows in person or watch at home. It was used for concerts, recitals and the annual screening of a silent film in the Halloween season.

The app was developed not just for entertainment but also for accessibility, according to Kelly McKee-Foos, marketing manager.

This artist’s rendering shows what Stambaugh Auditorium will look like once the stairs and promenade have been restored and the building facade cleaned. A wheelchair ramp will be added, connecting the garden to the promenade.

As dance competitions returned in early 2021, it offered a platform for dancers and their families to view current protocols and daily schedules, and order concessions online for safe pickup.

The same app offered guests of private events, such as weddings, the ability to order drinks from the bar without leaving their tables.

Stambaugh’s 2021 fundraising efforts netted $2.5 million, including $728,000 from the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, a federal pandemic relief program, and $350,000 from the state capital budget. 

The Fore! the Arts Golf Classic was launched last year as a joint fundraising event between the Stambaugh Auditorium Association and the Youngstown Symphony Society. It raised $70,000 in its inaugural year.

The most noticeable growth project for the Stambaugh Association in 2021 was the start of the exterior restoration project which includes the Fifth façade and staircase, McKee-Foos says. The goal of the project is to restore the exterior to its original splendor.

The completion of the Fifth Avenue staircase restoration will bring fresh opportunities for outdoor events in that part of the auditorium.

The final fundraising phase is underway for the project, which is expected to be complete in the spring.

The inaugural Stambaugh Summer Arts Camp took place in 2021. The week-long camp was provided to 60 students from the Youngstown Park and Recreation Department, Boys and Girls Club of Youngstown and Jewish Community Center summer camp programs, McKee-Foos says.

It included arts workshops presented by Ballet Western Reserve, Opera Western Reserve, the Youngstown Playhouse and Youngstown Symphony Orchestra.  The camp featured the renowned Missoula Children’s Theater and culminated in the students participating in a performance of “Sleeping Beauty” for an audience of nearly 300.

Looking ahead, Stambaugh will explore more educational programming and outreach programs, including workshops, performances, and partnerships with community organizations, McKee-Foos says.