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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

City of Winter Haven Announces Continued Discussions on Historic Ritz Theatre Acquisition

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CITY OF WINTER HAVEN ANNOUNCES CONTINUED DISCUSSIONS ON HISTORIC RITZ THEATRE ACQUISITION

Winter Haven, FL – The Winter Haven City Commission authorized City staff during their March 25, 2024 regular City Commission meeting to continue discussions with The Historic Ritz Theatre Board of Directors regarding the potential acquisition of the Historic Ritz Theatre. This decision follows in-depth conversations and considerations about the future of this iconic structure and its importance to the cultural and economic vibrancy of downtown Winter Haven.

The Historic Ritz Theatre, a cornerstone of our community’s arts and culture scene, has faced financial challenges that have jeopardized its continued operations and maintenance. Recognizing the theatre’s significant place in our City’s history and its potential for enhancing the downtown area, the City has been in talks with the Theatre Board of Directors, at their request, about the possibility of the City taking over ownership of the building.

In line with the proposed plan, operations of the Ritz Theatre would be contracted out to Theatre Winter Haven, utilizing a similar structure of agreement as is currently in place with them at their main stage and second stage in the AdventHealth Fieldhouse & Conference Center complex. Theatre Winter Haven has a proven track record of delivering quality cultural programming and operational management, and their involvement would ensure the continued vibrancy and sustainability of the Ritz Theatre.

The building, nearly a century old, remains in good condition, with inspections revealing only minor repairs needed. The City’s Facility Maintenance Division has outlined a comprehensive plan for these repairs, ensuring the theatre’s structural integrity and operational efficiency for years to come.

This initiative represents a strategic investment in the cultural and economic development of downtown Winter Haven. By securing the future of the Ritz Theatre, the City aims to enhance its status as a center for arts and culture, attracting visitors and residents alike to experience the diverse programming and events that reflect our community’s rich heritage and dynamic future.

The next steps in the process include consideration of the proposed plan by both the Historic Ritz Theatre Board of Directors and the Theatre Winter Haven Board of Directors and further analysis by City staff. Further details on the progress of these discussions and plans for the Ritz Theatre will be provided as they become available.

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