Benson Theatre, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, was founded in 2012 to renovate the historic Benalto Theatre at 6054 Maple Street in Omaha, Neb. Our mission is to engage, enhance and enrich the community through educational and artistic experiences.
Built in 1923 as a vaudeville theater, 6054 Maple Street is currently closed to public assembly. A capital campaign is under way to renovate our facility and build out our programming.
We currently operate The B Side of Benson Theatre at 6058 Maple Street, a 2,910 square foot event venue that can be booked for workshops, seminars, networking events, forums, fundraisers, creative performances, receptions, private events and more. B Side also serves as storage and office space for our staff.
Our goals are to:
• Improve the quality of life for residents of North Omaha
• Provide educational programming for artists, entrepreneurs, nonprofits and the underserved that gives them the skills they need to be successful in today’s marketplace
• Preserve a piece of Omaha’s architectural and cultural history
• Enhance collaboration among Omaha’s existing nonprofits, performing arts organizations and schools
• Increase exposure and build new audiences for our community partners
Our story begins with Omaha native Amy Ryan. Born and raised in North Omaha by a teacher and a small business owner, Ryan owned the Pizza Shoppe at 6056 Maple Street for more than two decades. She regularly donated 15% of her sales to those in need. Because of the restaurant’s location, she regularly came in contact with the underserved and special needs individuals.
When the theatre building next to the Pizza Shoppe came up for sale, Ryan envisioned its restoration as an inclusive community space for the arts, learning and more – one that would not overlook the needs of residents she came in contact with every day.
Education + Entertainment
While a number of communities across the country have renovated cherished movie palaces or vaudeville theaters for current use, our dual-nature operating plan promotes all art forms, meets a variety of need and helps generate the operating revenue necessary to meet our bottom line.
During the day, our facilities focus on providing educational opportunities that foster the success of artists, nonprofits, small business owners and underserved populations in North Omaha and throughout the city.
During the evening, our facilities serve as a performance venue for our community partners (and us, of course!) and welcome all art forms – comedy, dance, film, music, the spoken word, theatre, the visual arts and more. We are the future home of the Omaha Film Festival.
We have developed more than 70 community partnerships with area nonprofits and organizations that intend to use our facilities for performances and educational workshops, and this number continues to grow. For more information about how to become a community partner, call 402.991.4333.