40 Years of Performing Arts

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Categories: Arts & Entertainment, In Our Communities

The Tulsa Performing Arts Center is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a special gala performance on Sunday, March 12, at 7 p.m. This concert will feature jazz vocalist Jane Monheit with Grammy winner Nicholas Payton and the Tulsa Symphony. Monheit’s latest CD is a tribute to the legendary Ella Fitzgerald—who was the first performer to grace the PAC stage in March of 1977. Monheit will perform some classic songs of Fitzgerald’s in addition to other music with her jazz combo and the orchestra.

Originally intended to provide a modern facility to house local, nonprofit performing arts organizations, the Tulsa Performing Arts Center opened its doors in March 1977. Constructed with a then unique combination of public and private funds, the Center is owned and operated by the City of Tulsa. Local arts organizations and commercial entertainment promoters are the PAC’s primary clients. Public funds for building the PAC were provided by a 1973 bond issue. To encourage approval, civic leaders John H. Williams and Leta Chapman posed a challenge to Tulsa citizens: If they would vote to fund half of the total cost for a new performing arts center, Williams and Chapman would raise a matching amount in private dollars. Led by Mayor Robert J. LaFortune, Tulsa voters overwhelmingly approved the challenge and “Everyone’s Place” held its first concert on March 19, 1977.


“The PAC Trust has provided grants for artists and theatre groups, and the City of Tulsa has given deeply discounted rental rates to frequent users of the Tulsa PAC,” said PAC Director, John Scott. “Many performance groups would not have been able to survive down times without the support of the PAC Trust and the City of Tulsa. That level of support has helped sustain arts organizations, which has given them the opportunity to grow and thrive. Other communities might want to consider a program that offers discounts to frequent users of its city-funded facilities. Arts play a part in the economic vitality of a city. That often goes unrecognized. Our city government has been an arts sponsor and friend to the arts for decades.”


The Tulsa PAC houses four theatres and has had a who’s who list of performers grace the stage, including Tony Bennett, Norah Jones, Michael Bublé, Kelly Clarkson, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Steve Martin and Itzhak Perlman, as well as touring Broadway musicals such as “The Lion King,” “Wicked” and “The Phantom of the Opera,” which set an all-time attendance record of 94,588 for one show in 1996 during its five-week run.


“Downtown Tulsa has become a cultural beehive of activity when it comes to the arts,” said Marketing Director, Adam J. Foreman. “Within several city blocks, one can experience a variety of artistic endeavors, from museums and art spaces to galleries and educational venues. We are proud to be an anchor in this district, allowing groups both large and small to be able to showcase their gifts to the world. We encourage, support and thrive on the arts in all its forms.”

Tickets for this grand 40th Anniversary concert featuring Jane Monheit, Nicholas Payton and the Tulsa Symphony are $25, $40, $55 and $90. The $90 VIP ticket price includes prime seating and a post-show reception with the performers. VIP tickets are limited.


Celebrate 40 years of performing arts at the Tulsa PAC this March. Get your tickets today.

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