In 1997, the Salt Lake County Center for the Arts released the results of a theater needs assessment for downtown Salt Lake City. The assessment noted that Salt Lake County needs a 1000-seat theater with rehearsal and administrative spaces to serve local arts organizations. The report identified Promised Valley Playhouse as a candidate for filling this role.
Built in 1905 as the Orpheum Theatre, Promised Valley Playhouse was once Salt Lake City'S most luxurious vaudeville house. In the 1970s, the LDS Church purchased the building for church stage productions. In 1996, the church closed the theater pending the construction of a 1000-seat theater as part of its new assembly hall.
Upon learning of the theater assessment, Utah Heritage Foundation encouraged the Salt Lake County Center for the Arts to seriously examine whether Promised Valley Playhouse could fill the county's needs. From these discussions, a partnership formed to undertake a feasibility study.
The LDS Church, which has maintained the theater since its closing, contributed financially to the feasibility study through its foundation in hopes of determining whether a building it no longer needed could serve the community again. The Salt Lake City RDA also contributed funds for the study. The RDA knows that theaters --through patronage to restaurants, parking lots, and area businesses --contribute significantly to a vital downtown.
The feasibility study, conducted by Cooper/Roberts Architects, found that Promised Valley Playhouse "meets or exceeds" all the county's requirements for a mid-sized theater for approximately $3 to $5 million less than the cost of building a new theater. By demonstrating the economic and programmatic viability of reusing Promised Valley Playhouse, the feasibility study has built support among the business and foundation community for renovating the theater. Several groups have stepped forward with pledges. In addition, the feasibility study process has created a remarkable public/private partnership united by the belief that Promised Valley Playhouse can once again be a downtown cultural treasure.