Legend to perform at Springfield theater dedication named for him

Legend — who raised $500,000 for the project — will perform after a 1 p.m. ribbon cutting at the 680-seat John Legend Theater at the Springfield Center of Innovation: The Dome, 700 S. Limestone St.

The school board likely wouldn’t have taken on the project with Legend’s help, Communications and Special Projects Consultant Kim Fish said.

“John was really a catalyst to get something that we all wanted to do finally done,” Fish said.

After Legend’s donations, other donors such as Speedway, Security National Bank, the Turner Foundation and the Springfield Foundation have brought the total raised to about $900,000. The school district paid for the remainder of the project with money from the sale of old school sites as far back as 2004, Fish said.

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The Dome now houses several education programs, including the Greater Springfield CareerConnectED Center, where students from four districts can build skills by exploring creative arts, digital media, computer science, welding and more.

It’s also home to the Global Impact STEM Academy and labs are under construction for several Clark State Community College degree programs.

>> MORE: Architectural gems uncovered during theater renovation

Much of the overall building renovation at the former Springfield South High School, originally built in 1909, was funded by an $11.3 million Ohio Straight-A grant awarded in 2014. Legend was a partner in writing the grant, Fish said.

The district and Legend began discussions about a possible theater project in 2006, she said. The new Springfield High School doesn’t have a full theater, using the cafetorium for its performances.

“It’s been 10 years in the making,” Fish said.

The school district has been looking for the opportunity to bring a fully equipped theater to Springfield students since the schools combined in 2008.

“Students learn so much by either being in performances, behind the scenes doing technical theater, it’s just a great place for students to explore their passions and grow,” Fish said.

Public access to Legend’s performance is limited, according to the school district. Wristbands will be distributed in advance of the performance to selected teachers, staff members, community partners, mentors, donors and to more than 100 students.

About 200 wristbands will be distributed to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. Wristbands will be distributed to the public at the box office at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Clifton Avenue entrance, near the box office area. No one is permitted to wait in line before 4:30 p.m. and the wristbands will be limited to two per person.

“We know they’ll go fast,” Fish said.

Several other performances have been booked this year, including the Springfield Arts Council’s Youth Ambassadors production of “Alice in Wonderland.” The high school is also going to hold a film festival, as well as performance from the Ukulele Club, and the middle school and high school symphonies pops series.

“Because we have this space now, we’re going to have new and different opportunities for kids and the community,” Fish said.

A fund has already been set up at the Springfield Foundation for additional lighting equipment and enhancements to the theater, Fish said. The district will also be doing a campaign to name seats in the theater.

“It’s not too late for people to participate in making this a really great theater and keeping it a really great theater and keep it affordable,” Fish said. “

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