Building fund continues to chart progress

It’s been 90 years since the Benalto Theater entertained the Benson neighborhood with vaudeville performances, film screenings and community events. Thanks to the generosity of donors, a groundswell of community support and a lot of elbow grease, the dream of reopening the venue for educational and artistic experiences is making great headway.

As of May 1, the Benson Theatre group has raised funds to purchase the building at 6054 Maple Street, develop plans for its renovation and is within $1.4 million of its total fund-raising goal, said Amy Ryan, the nonprofit’s executive director. “Our mission is to engage, enhance and enrich the Benson community with educational and artistic experiences, and our message is starting to resonate with people throughout the city,” she said.

The Benson Theatre group, spearheaded by Ryan, formed in 2009 and received its nonprofit status in 2012. The total cost of the project, including construction and six months of operating costs, is $2.4 million. Construction will begin when all the funds have been raised, Ryan said.

In addition to securing almost half its fund-raising goal, the theatre has formed 37 community partnerships with local organizations that plan to use the facility once it opens, including the University of Nebraska at Omaha College of Communication, Fine Arts and Media, Hear Nebraska and Benson High School.

“The diversity of our community partners reflects the neighborhood and will be the key to our programming,” Ryan said. The venue will host educational workshops and seminars during the day and entertainment during the evening.

Educational offerings will include:

The 225-seat assembly theatre will provide the backdrop for film, live theatre, musical performances, vaudeville and comedy. It will also be available for private events.

“The Benson Theatre will be a space for people to connect and collaborate, encouraging both personal and community growth,” said Lenli Corbett, chair of the Benson Theatre Board of Directors. “We hope that once open, all community members will find a way to experience the Theatre that is meaningful to them.”

For more information, contact Ryan at or 402.218.3678.

About the project

Our home at 6054 Maple Street.

Our versatile new home at 6054 Maple Street.

The Benson Theatre is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that fosters the success of artists, nonprofits, entrepreneurs, and underserved populations within the historic community of Benson in Omaha, Neb. Our goal is to restore the historic Benson Theatre at 6054 Maple Street to serve as a shared community space for business education and artistic performance. The theatre will offer independent programming and serve as an alternative stage in north Omaha for existing nonprofits, schools and performing arts organizations.

Built in 1923 as a vaudeville theater, the building is currently closed to public assembly and in need of  a full  renovation. The nonprofit purchased the building in September 2014 and is currently raising funds for the building renovation and the nonprofit’s early operating expenses.

Benson is a flourishing arts and entertainment district, and the timing to restore our historic theater and bring more diverse entertainment and vital business education to our community has never been better. Your tax-deductible donation will help preserve a historic landmark and support more educational opportunities for Benson and the greater Omaha community.

Help us reach our goal and donate online today! Donations can also be mailed to:

Benson Theatre
Attn: Amy Ryan
P.O. Box 4972
Omaha, NE 68104

For more information on sponsorships, contact Benson Theatre Executive Director Amy Ryan at

Future programming

The theatre’s programming will include educational workshops and seminars during the day and entertainment in the evening. Our nonprofit will provide performance space and vital financial education resources not currently accessible in this urban area.



Historic restoration

Old-Benson2The Benson Theatre first operated as the Benalto Theater from 1923 to 1926. From 1927 to 1953, the theater was part   of a chain of neighborhood theaters owned by the Epstein Bros. It could originally seat an assembly of 400 for vaudeville performances, film screenings and community events. The Benson Theatre Project is working with Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture and Lund-Ross Constructors to complete the historic renovation. Construction will include the following:

Thanks to our partners