Make History!

Join Us To Save The Plaza Theatre

The Plaza Theatre has an impressive role in the history of Palm Springs. The theatre’s iconic identity was established on its opening to the public in 1936 with the world premiere of the Oscar-winning George Cukor film, Camille, with its legendary star, Greta Garbo, who allegedly slipped into the back of the theatre after the lights went down. In addition to being a movie theatre, it was also the venue for nationally-broadcast radio theatre programs by such luminaries as Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Jack Benny, and Amos ‘n’ Andy.

Over the decades, the building has deteriorated, and the Plaza Theatre Foundation has been established to raise $16M in order to support the City of Palm Springs’ effort to fully restore the historic theatre.

Our goal is to prepare this one-of-a-kind community facility for a “Next Act” by replacing or restoring most systems, installing new seats, sound, and lighting, adapting the structure to meet current ADA requirements, and providing the theatre with modern facilities needed to provide Palm Springs and the Valley with a venue accessible and affordable for everyone. Exciting new developments include:

  • Our fundraising success has been humbling and overwhelming. In the past 15 months the Foundation has raised $13.5M toward our goal of $16M from an incredible group of donors.
  • We are now in the final phase of our major donor fundraising and we need to raise the remaining $2.5 million by the end of June 2023 which coincides with our anticipated construction start date.

When restored, the Plaza Theatre will be the only place available for the entire community to come together and utilize it as an affordable community venue showcasing diverse programming for all people, local youth organizations, promoting multicultural programming in film, music, live theater, education, comedy, and entertainment for all. It will also support and serve nonprofit organizations like the Palm Springs International Film Festival, ONE-PS, the Jessie O. James Desert Highland Unity Center, LGBTQ+ organizations, Arts groups, modernism-related events, our senior population, and many others.

Please join us as we embark on this exciting future for the Plaza Theatre. The rebirth of a cultural icon cannot happen without your support!

History of the Theatre

  • The Palm Springs Plaza Theatre Foundation was established to work with the City of Palm Springs to raise capital to fully restore one of its most iconic buildings – the historic Plaza Theatre in Downtown Palm Springs.
  • Originally built in 1936, the structure was used for film premieres and screenings and was the venue for nationally broadcast radio theatre programs and other performances by Bing Crosby, Amos ‘n’ Andy, Jack Benny, Bob Hope, and Frank Sinatra, among many others. In its later years, the theater was home to the critically acclaimed and revered “The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies.”
  • The historic theatre is an example of an atmospheric theatre which was constructed using cast-in-place concrete, concrete masonry, and heavy timber. This site was granted Class 1 (Landmark) status in 1991 by the Palm Springs City Council
  • Over the decades, the Plaza Theatre has deteriorated, so the City of Palm Springs acquired the building in 2015 with the condition to maintain its operation as a performing arts venue

Where We Are Now

  • The City is working in partnership with the Palm Springs Plaza Theatre Foundation to undertake a $16 million capital campaign to fund a full restoration and modernization of the theatre to restore its former glory and assist the city with the renovation and future management of the theatre.
  • The Plans for the Restoration of the Theatre are nearly complete.
  • In 2018 the City engaged the international architecture firm Gensler and historic preservation firm Chattel to develop a comprehensive restoration and rehabilitation plan. The Gensler conceptual plan called for a complete restoration of the historic aspects of the theatre, installing approximately 700 new seats, the expansion of the current lobby, significant infrastructure repairs and the installation of new theatre equipment, and significant structural improvements to meet current fire prevention and Americans With Disabilities Act mandates.
  • In 2022, Architectural Resources Group, Inc. was chosen to complete the design and oversee the renovation. Architectural Resources Group has completed several other historic projects of similar scope.
  • The City of Palm Springs will handle the construction bid process and contractor selection together with the Plaza Theatre Foundation. The City will also oversee the construction contract, and construction disbursements.
  • Construction completion is currently anticipated in the fall of 2024.
  • The Plaza Theatre Foundation will work with the City to identify a professional theatre operator to manage the theatre for the city once it is renovated

Capital Campaign Status

  • Our Capital Campaign has been tremendously successful, and we are in the home stretch.
  • As of March 1, 2023, the Plaza Theatre Foundation has raised in grants and pledges a total of $13.5M An additional $2.5M must be raised to meet the goal of $16 million.
  • The good news is that every dollar raised will free up $2 in matching funds (pledges).

Transformational Opportunity to Serve the Entire Community

  • The renovated Plaza Theatre will remain a City of Palm Springs facility and is intended to serve every segment of the Palm Springs community.
  • When the theatre reopens it will remain an independent theatre bringing arts and culture to downtown Palm Springs including hosting live musical and theatrical performances, film festivals, lecture series, and a full range of community programming.

Future Use Options

These are a few of the many options currently being explored:

  • Live entertainment, headliner entertainment, concerts and musical shows, holiday shows, theatrical plays, comedy shows, dance, and cabaret
  • Educational Presentations: lecture series, city meetings, book readings
  • Film Screenings: first run films, classics, festivals, and opera
  • Celebrating diversity with special events: holiday events throughout the year, black history month’s gospel festival, Hispanic heritage month performances, Palm Springs Pride performances, and more
  • Public School Partnerships: a venue for productions put on by the Palm Springs Unified School District like “Protect the Arts,” the “Musical Theatre University,” the high school’s well-regarded “Folkloric Mexican Dance Troupe,” and performances by our middle and high school students.

When this restoration project is completed, the historic Plaza Theatre will be poised to continue to provide the city and its visitors with top notch entertainment in an iconic and fully-restored historic venue.