Shakespeare in the Park’s Deteriorating Delacorte Theater Getting $77 Million ‘Revitalization’

Rendering of revitalized Delacorte Theater. Photo credit: Ennead Architects.

By Carol Tannenhauser

The Delacorte Theater, best known for its free performances of Shakespeare’s plays in the midst of Central Park, is getting a “much-needed revitalization” by The Public Theater, in partnership with the Central Park Conservancy and the New York City Parks Department, a press release announced on Wednesday.

After three years of work and study, delayed by the pandemic, a design has been arrived at, which will be presented to the first of many community boards on Thursday.

The project is expected to cost $77 million, with $41 million contributed by the Mayor, City Council and Manhattan Borough President, and the rest raised privately. Pending approvals, including that of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, work is anticipated to begin in the fall of 2022.

“The renovation of The Delacorte is not optional,” the release explained. “The deteriorating structure is in dire need of rebuilding to provide upgraded and more comfortable conditions for staff, artists and audiences alike. It lacks modern back-of-house theatrical operations and does not ensure equitable access for those living with disabilities.

Key proposed design elements include: 

The Public is also in conversations with the City Parks Department to improve and expand the comfort stations which serve as the theater’s restrooms during performances.”

The project is committed to prioritizing diverse hiring, the release said, “exceeding the City and State’s minimum requirements for contracting Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises and Locally-based Business Enterprises (MWBEs and LBEs).”  Designed by Ennead Architects, it is also committed to preserving the sanctity of Central Park.

“Over the last several years, the Public worked with park stakeholders and design experts to closely study the potential impact of construction on the surrounding natural environment and arrived at a plan which will take great care to protect it. Central Park is not only crucial to the experience of Free Shakespeare in the Park; it is the backdrop that inspires its actors and captivates its audiences.”

ART, NEWS, OUTDOORS | 12 comments | permalink
    1. wombatNYC says:

      Leave the community boards out of it. Well needed, looks great. Just build it !

    2. Wayne Z. says:

      $90 million for a dock. $77 million for a small outdoor theatre refurb. These numbers are ridiculous. There’s no accountability when it comes to NYC accounting.

    3. Olmstead, not Vaux says:

      Deteriorating my a$$ – saw 3 shows there this summer, it needs work, but $77 million????? Where is this sort of money for the rest of the Parks Department????

    4. Marjorie Graham says:

      Restrooms need to be upgraded and expanded to accomodate patrons without long lines.

    5. SNY says:

      That the new and improved Delacorte Theater will be in full compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act ADA) is EXCELLENT NEWS!
      Finally, Shakespeare In The Park for ALL New Yorkers.
      After 60 years, it’s about time.

    6. JS says:

      Im very glad $ are being spent on our beautiful park. It is enjoyed by locals and tourists and must be improved for future generations to enjoy. Thanks for the update!

    7. Ginny says:

      More bathrooms, please!

    8. A Pepper says:

      Great news but how is it that improving bathroom access and arrangements aren’t listed! Definitely a must. And I love the Delacorte 💗

    9. yoma says:

      When was the last Delacorte renovation? Didn’t we just do this? I swear I thought they fixed up the place sometime in the last 20 years.

    10. Ethan says:

      I am a huge supporter of the arts but the MTA is the circulatory system of the city. There is so much work that needs to be done on the subway that is pretty much life and death. Much as I hate it, getting public transport back in shape is going to help solve a lot of other problems.