Ruth Eckerd Hall announced a $1.5 million gift from Kate Tiedemann and Ellen Cotton as part of the theatre’s ongoing “Expanding the Experience” fundraising campaign. In recognition of the generous donation, the soon-to-be constructed cabaret theatre located inside the new Grand Lobby at Ruth Eckerd Hall will be named The Kate Tiedemann and Ellen Cotton Cabaret Theatre.

"Ellen and I met Zev on several occasions and learned of the Ruth Eckerd Hall program to introduce the younger generation to the theatre, to offer education for these aspiring future stars and the experience to perform for the public in a small theatre environment, such as the Cabaret Theatre,” commented Ms. Tiedemann.  “That is why Ellen and I decided to underwrite this wonderful program for Eckerd Hall.”

Exterior construction at Ruth Eckerd Hall began this Spring and upon completion, the interior renovation and construction will begin with the expansion of the Grand Lobby to six times its present size.  Along with many new high-tech improvements and a new VIP Lounge, the new Cabaret Theatre stage and seating area will be created.  The seating area will enable up to 250 guests to drink, dine and be entertained prior to each main stage performance by the Marcia P. Hoffman School of the Arts students performing concert selections. 

“The Cabaret Theatre is specifically designed so that every arts and music student we train at our Marcia P. Hoffman School of the Arts will have the opportunity to perform in the new Grand Lobby on the new Cabaret Stage one hour before each main stage presentation,” commented Zev Buffman, former Ruth Eckerd Hall President & CEO.  “All 150 student’s annual events will not only have “our future stars”, but, will have first-class lighting, sound, set design and costumes from our young experts in technical theatre. We will also serve food and beverages to hundreds of theatre goers before each show. We are honored to have Kate and Ellen with us as we fulfill our mission, Plus both my wife Vilma and I just love their company.”

The Capitol Campaign, “Expanding the Experience”  is a $32 million campaign that began in 2013, with the renovation of the Capitol Theatre in Downtown Clearwater, the complete overhaul of the Murray Theatre in 2015 and the renovation of the Margarete Heye Great Room including a world-class commercial kitchen last year.  This year, renovations begin at Ruth Eckerd Hall with the roadway improvements including new lanes for traffic, drop-off and departure, new signage, landscaping and lighting.  In 2018, ground breaking will begin for the new grand lobby, cabaret theatre and may other improvements.