Pat Halloran served as President and CEO of the Orpheum for 35 years until his retirement last year. This month, he was our DNA speaker and entertainer at the newly constructed Halloran Centre for Performing Arts & Education.
The Centre is a beautiful 39,000 square foot performance space equipped with state of the art technology. It was created primarily to support the expansion of the Orpheum's educational programs, which last year served 66,000 kids.
A few years ago Halloran and his team recognized that their aspirations for the programs would require more space than the Orpheum could provide. They started their search further south and nearly signed a deal for a space near Spindini. At the last minute Halloran decided it wasn't big enough. "Let's go for the home run," he told his partners.
After a $14M investment, the center is a reality and they now have the space they need to grow programs like their "Broadway bootcamp," which brings cohorts of diverse students together to put together a Broadway show over the summer.
In total they have 19 educational programs and are trying to expand to serve 100,000 students, teachers and families by 2018.
"The school system is facing budget cuts and we can see what's coming. We're picking up what they are leaving behind," says Halloran.
The Halloran Performing Arts Theater seats 361 and features some of the best acoustics in the mid-South. There are 17 microphones in the ceiling. A speaker can roam the room, taking questions from the audience, and never need a handheld mic! The Halloran Centre also has a lounge and a variety of event spaces available for rent.
Since his retirement, Halloran has been writing a second book on the Orpheum and launching his art gallery on South Main, Pat Halloran's ART attack. You may not know this, but Halloran actually owned an art gallery in Court Square in the 70s when the Downtown area was in decline. "The day it opened, the department store across the street closed," moaned Halloran. At the time he was also involved in local politics, serving on the Memphis City Council. When, three years later, Halloran decided to run for mayor he was advised, "it's not helpful to have a tanking gallery" and he closed shop.
After losing that mayoral race in 1979, Halloran suddenly found himself unemployed. At that time the Orpheum was closed and on the verge of being demolished and turned into a parking lot. A group of passionate and prominent Memphians came together to save the Orpheum. They needed funding for extensive renovations, and tapped Halloran to lead the effort.
"I told them I didn't see myself selling popcorn the rest of my life." But in reality, Halloran had a fondness for the theater. There was an identical theater by the same architects in his hometown in Omaha.
So Halloran agreed to take the role of President and CEO of the Orpheum for two years. He raised the millions needed and completely overhauled the theater. Booking live shows and more Broadway shows than any other theater, Halloran turned the Orpheum into the Downtown jewel it is today. Two years ultimately became 35. On his decision to retire Halloran says, "Things were going well. It was the perfect time for someone with a new vision and approach to take it to even higher levels."
If you haven't checked out the Halloran Centre for Performing Arts, make sure you do! They will be announcing the season lineup soon. You can swing by Pat Halloran's ART Attacks on Trolley Nights (last Friday of every month) for a free glass of wine and a tour of his shop. As for Orpheum shows, download the official Orpheum App and you can buy tickets and see the full scheduled directly from your phone!