UDM receives $2 million gift for black box theater

The University of Detroit Mercy recently received an anonymous gift of $2 million towards its black box theatre project.  

Although the donor wishes to remain anonymous, the Department of Performing Arts is appreciative of their support.  

“We cannot communicate enough how grateful we are for the donation,” said Andrew Papa, chair of the Department of Performing Arts. “It has made the world of difference in the timeline and possibility of this project.” 

The black box theatre project is significant for the University, as it will be the first time that Detroit Mercy will have an on-campus venue for stage production.  

“The department has been continually producing theater since 1970, with individual productions dating back all the way to the birth of the University in 1877,” Papa said. “In that entire time, there has never been a designated theatre space on campus.”  

Aside from performing in-house shows, Papa looks forward to the possibility of hosting lectures, workshops, poetry readings and other events inside the venue.  

Not only will the theatre provide students with a creative space, but it will stand as the heart of cultural and artistic events for Detroit Mercy and the broader community.  

“The black box theatre will bring theater back to the McNichols campus and our Liv6 neighborhoods,” said Jocelyn Boryczka, dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Education.  

The theatre will be built in the Student Union on McNichols Campus, making it a central location for students, staff, faculty and individuals from the community.  

“This location at the center of campus on the ground level of the Student Union will be a hub of arts and culture for our entire community,” Boryczka said. 

Boryczka welcomes the black box theatre as an exciting and essential part of campus life. 

“The black box will invigorate campus life as a place for our campus and community to gather to experience arts and culture, hallmarks of a liberal arts educational experience,” said Boryczka.  

  The black box theatre has been in official development since Feb. 2023, when the conceptualization of the theatre on McNichols campus was approved. 

In Oct. 2023, the College of Liberal Arts & Education (CLAE), the Department of Performing Arts, UDM Facilities Managment and Campus Services began working with HED, an engineering and architectural firm in Royal Oak, Mich., to create preliminary plans for the upcoming venue.  

Although no official date has been set for the theatre’s opening, the University hopes to have it operational soon. 

To learn more about the Black Box Theatre Project, or to make a donation, go to https://www.udmercy.edu/life/theatre/blackbox.php