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Round Rock is getting its first professional performing arts venue

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ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — The City of Round Rock is getting its first professional, permanent theatre venue later this year after city council voted unanimously to approve an arts grant allocating funds to locking in the space.

Penfold Theatre Company, which has been putting on productions at various venues in the area for the last 16 years, will open a permanent venue at Rock Creek Plaza. The company hopes to open this fall and hold its first production there in October.

On Thursday, Round Rock City Council approved a $326,330 Arts Grant allocation from hotel occupancy tax funds, which will cover the cost of the venue’s rent of 18 months, according to a release from Penfold.

The production company said a tri-party agreement between itself, the city and Danly Properties will allow Penfold to transform space inside Rock Creek Plaza into a performing arts venue that will “house a wide variety of programs, incubate local arts organizations and address Round Rock’s need for an indoor performing arts facility.”

The venue space is a total of 6,400 square feet, features 15-foot high ceilings, and has a flexible seating capacity of 100 to 150.

Penfold said the venue’s existing layout — an assembly hall with a lobby, event space, public restrooms and backstage support areas — means the company can avoid significant construction or renovation costs.

According to Penfold’s release, community feedback from the City of Round Rock’s 2023 Arts & Culture Plan, “Round Rock Creates,” showed the desire for more arts in the city. It said nearly 86% of survey participants responded that the “City of Round Rock should either fully support or play a major role in expanding arts and culture opportunities.” It also said, 63% of survey respondents rate either adapting or building new facilities for arts and culture as a high or extremely high priority.

“These agreements are in line with the City’s objective to nurture creative enterprises and expand entertainment choices for our residents—a mission that Penfold has consistently supported through the years,” said Round Rock Mayor Craig Morgan. “I believe this project is the right fit for Round Rock, and I look forward to this new chapter in Penfold’s efforts to enrich our cultural landscape.”

Penfold has produced more than 50 professional productions in Round Rock, Austin, Cedar Park and Georgetown and has received more than 160 local awards and honors, including the Austin Chronicle’s “Best in Austin” and awards for Best Musical, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Theatre Outside Austin City Limits.

“With a permanent home, Penfold can build deeper, more focused relationships with area audiences, artists and supporters,” said Producing Artistic Director Ryan Crowder. “Penfold will serve as the venue’s manager and primary tenant, producing an annual season of plays and musicals. In addition, Penfold will offer affordable rental space to other arts organizations and welcome artists who are displaced or without performance space.”

In addition to the grant from Round Rock, Penfold received $35,000 from the Next Act Foundation to help with the cost of opening the venue. The company has of goal of raising a total of $100,000 to lightly renovate a flex space for rehearsals, readings, classes, and community events. The money would also go toward signage, seating, lighting and sound equipment, and necessary furniture and equipment for behind-the-scenes.

More information about the fundraising campaign can be found online.

A full production season for 2024-2025 will be announced at a later date.

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