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Hennepin Theatre Trust will partner with PNC Bank on lounge

Updated: October 25, 2017 - 1:20 pm

Agreement would support nonprofit’s buildout of new building

The Hennepin Theatre Trust announced Wednesday it has entered into a multi-year naming rights agreement with PNC Bank to brand a lounge in its new headquarters as the PNC Lounge.

The partnership includes the build out and naming of a first-level lounge inside the nonprofit’s building at 9th & Hennepin for non-ticketed events with guests, donors and sponsors.

President and CEO Mark Nerenhausen, who took the helm of the organization earlier this year, said the partnership goes beyond naming rights and will create a relationship between the two organizations. The money will go toward payments for the building and will support renovations like the lounge and a performance space on the third floor.

“It gives us a completely different tool than we’ve had with just the theaters,” he said. “This gives us a different way to interact with the community, to engage with the community and gives us a different visibility on Hennepin.”

Nerenhausen and a PNC Bank spokesman declined to discuss terms of the agreement, such as how much it is worth and how long it will last. They confirmed it is a multi-year deal.

The nonprofit, which owns and operates Hennepin Avenue’s three historic theaters — the Orpheum, State and Pantages — moved from City Center to the former Solera restaurant building earlier this year. Offices for staff occupy the second floor.

The lounge is expected to open later next year. Nerenhausen said they’re still working on the design of the space and whether it will include a bar. Because the building was last home to a restaurant and an event space it has several commercial kitchens.

The space could be used to entertain guests around shows — the Orpheum is located just next door — or for private events. Nerenhausen said he doesn’t expect the lounge to host ticketed events. On the third floor, the organization plans to create a performance space for community arts groups and education programs like FAIR School across the street.

PNC, one of the largest financial services firms in the country, has a downtown Minneapolis office that offers services like treasury management and international banking services to large and midsize firms.

Nerenhausen, who came to the organization after holding positions at several large performing arts venues across the country, said PNC has a history of supporting arts organizations. The partnership is a “leap of faith” on PNC’s part, he said, because of the nonprofit’s recent efforts to reinvent itself with a new building and programming beyond its three venues.

“I think they saw an institution with a track record of helping the community,” he said.

Kate Kelly, PNC regional president for the Twin Cities, said in a statement that a thriving arts community drives employment and tourism and will attract businesses.

“Hennepin Theatre Trust is one of the great cultural resources across Minnesota and we look forward to building a long-standing relationship,” she said.

Steve Cramer, CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council and Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District, said partnerships between the arts and business communities are important for a thriving downtown.

“Hennepin Theatre Trust is a key actor bringing these worlds together,” he said.

The agreement could be the first of multiple partnerships in the organization’s future. Nerenhausen said the agreement doesn’t preclude them from entering partnerships with other businesses or banking institutions. Bank of America is the title sponsor of the theaters’ Bank of America Broadway on Hennepin seasons.