- Geva was founded in 1972 by William Selden and Cynthia Mason Selden and was originally housed in the Rochester Business Institute building at 168 South Clinton Avenue. In 1982, Geva purchased and began renovation of its current space at 75 Woodbury Boulevard.
- Improvements to the building sparked the revitalization of the Clinton Avenue neighborhood and what has since become known as “Corporate Alley.”
- Geva Theatre Center is a gateway to downtown, with more than 27,000 cars passing by every day. Geva takes advantage of this fact by highlighting the names of our plays and sponsors on our Clinton Avenue marquee.
- In 1997, Geva launched and subsequently completed a $4.3 million 25th Anniversary Major Gift Campaign, which allowed Geva to purchase the building, retire accumulated debt, create an artistic enhancement fund, construct and open the Fielding Nextstage (now known as the Fielding Stage), and establish an endowment.
- In the winter of 2000, Geva Theatre Center opened its second stage, the Ron and Donna Fielding Stage, providing a venue to produce smaller-scale, more intimate productions, produce theatre for young audiences and develop new plays.
- In September 2016, Geva cut the ribbon on the most extensive renovation program since the 1980s. This $11 million, seven-year, multi-phase project encompassed the entire 51,832 square foot building. The project also included the purchase of the Geva Lofts – 14 studio apartments for visiting artists.
- As a not-for-profit organization with an annual operating budget of approximately $7.0 million, Geva employs approximately 200 people throughout the season and has an estimated overall economic impact on Rochester of more than $10 million. Geva has generated over $200 million in economic activity in the community since the organization was founded in 1972.
- Since its inception, over 5,636 actors, directors, musical directors, designers and stage managers have worked at Geva.
- Among Geva’s notable alumni are 1 Pulitzer Prize nominee, 4 Academy Award nominees, 22 Tony Award Winners, 72 Tony Award nominees, 34 Drama Desk Award Winners, 85 Drama Desk nominees, 11 Emmy Award Winners and 47 Emmy nominees. Kathy Bates, Josh Brolin, Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Bill Pullman, Anna Deavere Smith and Robert Vaughn have all graced the Geva stage.
- Geva has presented approximately 336 play readings since its inception.
- Geva’s Wilson Stage seats 522 theatergoers. Geva’s Fielding Stage seats 180 theatergoers.
- Geva Theatre Center has approximately 10,000 season ticket holders, more than any other performing arts, entertainment or sporting venue in town.
- Approximately 16,000 school-aged children are served by Geva educational programming every year.
- Geva sold its 4 millionth ticket in spring 2013.
From 18th Century Arsenal to 21st Century Playhouse
- For over 140 years the historic building on the corner of Clinton and Woodbury has been a gathering place. A gathering place for triumphant celebrations and moments of local and national sorrow. A podium from which presidents, governors and great orators rallied their public and a stage from where international celebrities, musicians and performers moved their audiences.
- Designed in 1868 by noted Rochester Architect Andrew J. Warner, who also designed the Power’s Building, Erie County and Buffalo City Hall, and Rochester City Hall among others, the building was turned over to the 54th Regiment of the NY State Militia.
- In 1907, J. Foster Warner, who also designed the George Eastman House, designed the stage house and lobby additions and the building became known as the Convention Hall. As such, it hosted many of the great political figures of the day including William Jennings Bryan, Presidents Taft and Theodore Roosevelt.
- Rochester held a special place in the heart of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. At the beginning of his political career, he was a delegate to the Democratic State Convention. In 1928 he accepted the nomination for Governor of New York State here, and he appeared here while campaigning for re-election in 1936.
- In 1936, Social Security, a new federal program, was first announced here by John Townsend.
- Prior to the construction of the Eastman Theatre, The Convention Hall was the cultural center for Rochester and world renowned artists such as Anna Pavlova, Enrico Caruso, Fritz Kreisler, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Arturo Toscanini appeared within these walls.
- The Convention Hall also hosted weekly wrestling and boxing matches, annual flower shows and dog shows. Even today the annual Dachshund Parade is held in Washington Square Park – one of the vestiges of events once held here. The building was also used as a hospital during the 1918 flu epidemic and as a tonsil clinic in 1930, sponsored by George Eastman.
- In 1949, the building became the Naval Reserve Center and by 1975 the building housed several city departments: City of Rochester Center for Manpower Services and the offices of the City Maps and Records Department.
- In 1982 the building was purchased by GeVa (as it was then known) from the city. After three years of renovations, the building re-opened as a theatre on March 29, 1985.
What is a “Geva”?
Originally founded as the Genesee Valley Arts Foundation, Geva’s name (pronounced “JEE-vuh”) was first coined in 1972 by our founder, Cynthia Selden, by taking the first two letters of “Genesee” and of “Valley” – the area in which Rochester is located. In fact, our name was spelled “GeVa” until 1997 when artistic director Mark Cuddy downsized the big “V.” Now, we’re just like other famous Rochester brands, Kodak and Xerox, who have made-up names, too. They seem to have done all right with theirs, like Geva Theatre Center.
The Power of Your Support
The Board of Trustees takes very seriously the effective stewardship of our donors’ charitable investments in our not-for-profit endeavor. As such, we are very happy to share the results of that support. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact the Board Chair, Christopher Mannelli or Mark Cuddy, and they would be happy to share with you how your charitable support is enabling us to serve and enrich this community with professional theatre productions, programs, and services of a national standard.
- 2016-2017 Annual Report
- 2015-2016 Annual Report
- 2014-2015 Annual Report
- 2013-2014 Annual Report
- 2012-2013 Annual Report
- 2011-2012 Annual Report
A copy of Geva’s annual report is available upon request or from the NY Attorney General’s Charities Bureau at charitiesnys.gov.
- To date, the organization has produced 350 Wilson Stage productions, 52 Fielding Stage productions and 116 Improv productions. View the full Geva Production History.