SLAC’s New Campaign Launch Moves its Theatre Towards Accessibility


Salt Lake Acting Company Executive Artistic Director Cynthia Fleming at the Launch Event for The Amberlee Fund on April 27, 2021. (Photo by David Daniels | Courtesy Salt Lake Acting Company)

By Hannah Keating, Arts Editor


The last year of shutdown has sparked great changes in the theatre industry. On a large scale, Actors’ Equity Association recently protested their union’s lack of support by not paying their membership dues. Broadway veteran Karen Olivo refused to return to the cast of “Moulin Rouge!” based on the harassment allegations of producer Scott Rudin. On a small scale, community theatres across the country have had to cancel their seasons or convert their programming to virtual platforms.

It has been a time of awareness in the community, with theatre-makers asking the question, “How do we move out of this pandemic better providing for all patrons and people?” Salt Lake Acting Company is no stranger to this sentiment; the organization recently launched a $1 million capital campaign to improve accessibility in its theatre.

Behind The Scenes

If you’ve ever been a patron of SLAC, you know how unique the space is from the moment you enter the unconventional building. Once an LDS Ward House, SLAC’s home for the past several decades features theatre stages carved out from chapel halls connected by winding hallways of old church corridors. Because the nearly 130-year-old building serves a very different purpose today than it was originally designed for, it lacks proper facilities and accessibility features for some of its patrons.

In an effort to change this, SLAC has launched a capital campaign called “The Amberlee Fund: Accessibility Elevated.” Named after Amberlee Hatton-Ward, who was a frequent attendee of SLAC’s children’s productions before she passed in 2019, the campaign seeks to drastically remodel SLAC’s common spaces, including installing an elevator to the upstairs theatre space, creating a new accessible restroom on the main floor, and redesigning the interior space to one of “lots of color” and “unexpected moments of surprise,” according to cityhomeCOLLECTIVE Senior Designer Brea Valenzuela. SLAC chose to partner with the interior design firm cityhomeCOLLECTIVE, as well as local non-profit ASSIST Inc Community Design Center to best approach the redesign from many perspectives.

The fundraising goal for the project was $1 million, of which over $775 thousand has been raised through the support of The Amberlee Fund, as well as the Linda and Don Price Legacy Fund which has been matching donations up to $500 thousand.

Opportune Timing

While the full renovation amount is still being raised by donors and patrons, SLAC is wasting no time in kicking off this campaign. Plans for accessibility in the space have been in the works even before The Amberlee Fund and Price Legacy Fund began supporting the endeavor. “Salt Lake Acting Company recently turned 50 years old; and while our entire history hasn’t been in this 130-year old building, this space has certainly become ingrained in the DNA of SLAC,” said SLAC Executive Artistic Director Cynthia Fleming. Preserving the building’s history while updating and renovating its outdated interior for all patrons is the central mission of this campaign.

Many of SLAC’s donors who contributed their refunds from 2020’s cancelled productions or gift certificate money back to the theatre will now see their dollars be put to great use in the new space. On the circumstances of the pandemic, Fleming said, “Because we have shows running year-round, undertaking such a project prior to the pandemic would have required us to temporarily present our productions elsewhere. So in a strange way, this past year’s forced pause in producing live theatre … is allowing us to build back and build better.”

I will be excited to once again attend live theatre in-person, especially if the new design and accessibility factors in this historic space come to fruition from this campaign.


You can find more information on Salt Lake Acting Company, including their season and educational opportunities, through their website. Those who would like to contribute to The Amberlee Fund can do so by visiting their webpage or by calling 801-363-7522.


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