The Benson Theatre, a 501c3 nonprofit, was founded in 2009 to enhance, engage and enrich the Omaha community through educational and artistic experiences. Our goal is to restore the historic theatre at 6054 Maple Street to serve as a shared community space for education and artistic performance. Built in 1923 as a vaudeville theater, the building is currently closed to public assembly. A capital campaign is under way to raise funds for its renovation and one year of operating expenses.
The Benson Theatre's operating model began with Amy Ryan, owner of the Pizza Shoppe at 6056 Maple Street for more than two decades. Ryan sold the business in February 2017 to focus full time on her duties as executive director of the Benson Theatre. A former social worker, Ryan regularly donated 15% of her sales to those in need in her community.

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 and learning. While a number of communities across the country have renovated cherished "movie palaces" or vaudeville theaters for current use, Ryan and the Benson Theatre Board of Directors have developed a unique operating plan that promotes all art forms, meets a variety of needs in an underserved area of the city and generates the operating revenue necessary to assure its future success.

It focuses on two areas - education during the day for artists, entrepreneurs, nonprofits and underserved populations, and diverse arts entertainment for audiences during the evening. It will truly be a shared space for cultivating creativity in all its forms, a place where people from different backgrounds, cultures and income levels can comfortably gather to experience what the arts has to offer.

During the past nine months, the Benson Theatre has established more than 50 community partnerships with local nonprofits, businesses and individuals, and that list continues to grow. The community partners range from organizations that will use the performance space for their creative offerings to nonprofits and businesses that will provide much-needed business training to the local creative community.
The Benson Theatre will attract tourists to midtown Omaha from throughout the region and beyond. It will truly add to our city's image as an arts and entertainment destination. Its planned assembly of 250 will provide up-and-coming regional and national artists with a much-needed venue to showcase their work and propel them forward.

Because Benson has recently become known as a flourishing entertainment district, Benson Theatre's capability to host concerts, film presentations, comedy and theatrical productions will further produce and enhance the economic growth and development of the historic neighborhood and the entire metro area.

As a founding donor, I wholeheartedly support the theatre's mission and operating structure.

Chip Davis
President and Composer
American Gramaphone, L.L.C.
Mannheim Steamroller