Rolling out interviewed Chicago Regal Theater owner Jerald Gary, 31, about the theater’s progress and his hope for community support.
Talk about what it’s like owning the Avalon Regal Theater (ART).
Owning the Avalon Regal Theater has been a very exciting period in my life. Every day, the project challenges me to think creatively about how performing arts can help develop the community and about how technology and finance can help make that development more accessible to residents of Chicago’s South Side.
I grew up a few blocks from the theater and I consider myself to be “living the dream” as a steward of this important and historic Chicago landmark.
As a musician who graduated from Chicago’s Merit School of Music and attended other arts programs in music, theater and dance I have an appreciation for the Regal and how it can provide access to the same arts programming I was part of as a child to more youth in the community.
And as a young Black man from the South Side who is fed up with Chicago’s reputation for shootings and violence, I recognize my responsibility to be an example of what’s possible when youth from the community have access to the right opportunities.
What projects are you currently working on?
Right now I am working on installing holographic projectors in the auditorium so that we can do some really interesting shows in addition to live content. Do you remember the Chief Keef hologram show that got canceled by the mayor of Chicago? I produced that behind the scenes with Hologram USA in Beverly Hills to show people how cool this technology is and the possibilities of what can be done with it.
The Avalon Regal Theater will be the first theater in the United States to have holographic technology. Some of the artists that could debut at the theater in addition to regular live performers include Jackie Wilson, Redd Foxx, and Billie Holiday. You’ll have to come to a show to see who might show up.
I think holograms are the future of entertainment. When you look at how media has evolved, you can see the trend toward 3-D. And whether it’s VR or AR, media consumption has become a more personal experience.
I feel like the best form of entertainment is the kind you experience with others. If you have on 3-D goggles or anything else that takes away from your experience enjoying being part of a crowd, you’ve lost out on the best part of attending a show!
How can people help you?
Visit https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/sci-fi-soul#/ to learn more about our campaign and sign up to our mailing list for updates.
You can also invest in season tickets at www.regaltheater.org/seatbonds.
I would like to crowdfund the building’s reopening to show people the power that technology has to unite and empower the community.
What are your goals for the theater?
For example, we could host a Jennifer Hudson concert where she does a “live” duet with Ella Fitzgerald.
Or Kanye West could perform live at the Regal with the Rolling Stones beamed in as holograms from a real-time performance in London.
Or Cab Calloway could dance alongside Bruno Mars during a performance of 24K Magic.
As an artist, my mind is full of possibilities for the theater. I created a Chicago Artists Council as a way established artists from Chicago who have a genuine interest in the community can help shape the theater’s goals.
What are your goals for the area?
My vision is to bring a Beale Street and LA Live vibe to 79th Street on the South Side of Chicago. I believe that the power of crowdfunding gives the community the ability to invest in this vision and benefit from all of the business and job creation that will happen as a result of that investment.
Annually, over $1.5B leaves the South Side of Chicago because there are not enough businesses to serve that community’s demand for products and services. My goal is to build community wealth through self-funded economic development. Sort of like FUBU, but for private equity.
I believe the South Side of Chicago can be developed just as places like Dubai have in order to increase tourism and diversify the local economy.
When should people expect the first show?
We are doing an open house event with the Chicago Architecture Foundation the weekend of Oct. 14-15, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., and everyone is invited.
We plan to have our first soft openings after that, later in the fall, with regular operations resuming spring 2018.
30-year-old Black man buys historic Regal Theater in Chicago