The historic Guadalupe Theater closes down for over a year of renovations

40th annual Holiday Saxophones show was the last performance before renovations began.

SAN ANTONIO — The curtains have closed at the Historic Guadalupe Theater on San Antonio’s west side, at least, for now. After Friday night’s Holiday Saxophones show, the venue will close while it is renovated.

Musical Director George Prado has been a part of holiday saxophone from the very beginning.

“It’s like a gift, a musical gift to the city,” said Prado.

The tradition began one year after the Guadalupe Theater’s last renovation in 1982.

“I was only going to do it one time, and then the next year guy said, ‘Hey, are we going to do that thing we did last year?’ So, we did it.”

Prado credits the growth of the show over the past 40 years to the wide variety of musicians they’ve been able to attract.

“The music of the players is what makes it,” he said. “They’ll be different. It’s like a fingerprint, you know,

Coincidentally, it is also the last show the 78-year-old building will host before closing for another renovation. Cristina Ballí, executive director for the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, which operates the theater said it is overdue for an update.

“There have been no upgrades since. There has been no improvement in the space and the equipment,” Ballí said. “We still have equipment in here from 1981 and lights from 1981 that sometimes we have technicians come out here to fix them and they have never even seen a light like that.”

But Ballí said the Cultural Arts Center will continue to put on their normal performances only at other locations, including just outside of the building at the Plaza Guadalupe.

“We’re happy that we have already found many partners, many of our beloved arts and culture partners and other fellow organizations that have offered their spaces for us to do our programs in,” Ballí said.

The renovation will take one and a half to two years and will preserve and restore architectural elements of the exterior, increase the size of the lobby, create more of a barrier between the theater and lobby area, and improve seating as well as sound and lighting systems.

The Guadalupe has a single 300-seat auditorium. Ballí said the the theater is too small to do the kind of renovation that is needed in segments.

All of the improvements that need to be made need to be made in one swoop,” she said.

Ballí said the renovation is possible because of a $3.5 million grant from the tax increment revitalization zone in district five. She said they intend to make the most of the investment and give the surrounding community the cultural center they deserve.

“We deserve the best facilities to present our art and culture,” she said, “And we’re finally going to make that happen.”

The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center will have information on the new locations for their shows guadalupeculturalarts.org

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