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Columbus Symphony submits plans for new performance venue at Scioto Peninsula

Columbus Symphony Orchestra on stage
Columbus Symphony Orchestra

The Columbus Symphony is in the early stages of planning a new dedicated concert venue.

The orchestra submitted a preliminary site plan to build a "Center of Music Innovation and Education" on the Scioto Peninsula just south of COSI at West Bank Park. The symphony mostly performs at the Ohio Theatre downtown, but would have its own performance space under the plan.

Columbus Association of the Performing Arts (CAPA) CEO Chad Whittington told WOSU on All Sides Weekend last Friday that the symphony is aiming to build a smaller venue with better acoustics. Whittington said the project could cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

"Planning is around a 1,500-1,600 seat concert hall in downtown Columbus. That's a much better fit from a size perspective than playing at the 2,800 seat Ohio Theatre," Whittington said.

Whittington explained that the Ohio Theatre was built as a movie theatre and while the acoustics are good, they were not made for live symphonic music.

"So why do we need (the new building)? Because we get something that is right sized for the symphony. And also when I think about the theatres we've got, how do we grow the Broadway season when we're sharing the Ohio Theatre between Ballet Met, the symphony and Broadway." Whittington said.

CAPA took over administrative tasks for the symphony over a decade ago, but Whittington said the symphony's board is mainly taking the lead on the project.

The symphony declined to comment further on the project because it's still early in the planning stages.

"We want to make sure it is financially sustainable in the long run. And we're working on both of those questions right now," Whittington said.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.