TAMPA — A longtime resident has willed the Tampa Theatre $623,500, the organization is announcing Tuesday. It's the largest individual donation of the theater's current fundraising campaign and perhaps the largest in the organization's history.
"Leaving a legacy like Richard Redman did is a really beautiful and thoughtful way to help the theater continue to succeed," Maggie Webber, director of development for Tampa Theatre, said in an interview.
Redman, an interior designer who founded the design firm Dean, Redman, Park, died in August 2016. He left the funds "for the maintenance and upkeep" of the theater, the organization's CEO John Bell said. Redman had been involved in the local arts scene for some time, supporting the theater with donations during his life and helping to found the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts.
The donation brings the theater's ongoing $6 million capital campaign up to $5.3 million. All of the funds, including Redman's, will be used for "urgent" repairs to the storied building located at 711 N. Franklin St., including electrical work, removing excess groundwater in the basement, lobby restoration and new seats. Modern comforts, such as cup holders and more leg room, will be added.
"Probably the thing that the audience will appreciate the most will be new seats," Bell said. "(They) will be modeled after the originals in terms of look and profile but will have a lot more comfort than the seats form 1926."
Built in 1926. the theater was designed by lauded architect John Eberson. While it is owned by the city of Tampa, the Tampa Theatre Foundation manages the venue.
The renovations will take place between November and December. Bell said he is confident the organization will meet its fundraising goal.
Redman's is the first legacy gift the theater has received. Tampa Theatre founded its Marquee Society in 2004 to bring in such donations. Many organizations factor donations into their budgets, relying on legacy gifts to help keep their budget steady.
"These organizations come to rely on that," said Jill Witecki, director of marketing and community relations for Tampa Theatre.
Currently, about a dozen people have indicated they will contribute a legacy gift, though many have not specified the size of their future donation.
Contact Malena Carollo at [email protected] or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo on Twitter.