A 30-year-old will renovate a historic Chicago theatre to provide a performing arts space for the community

GIVING BACK: Jerald Gary

GIVING BACK: Jerald Gary

A 30-YEAR-OLD private investor is resurrecting an old theatre used by performers like Duke Ellington, The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, and Pearl Jam, to provide a performing arts space for the community.

Jerald Gary hopes to get the historic Regal Theater building up and running by next year and his aim is to figure out “how to render capital of the community more active and productive”.

The former percussionist, who went on to study finance and aviation, remembers attending the venue as a child to watch Chicago Sinfonietta, but hasn’t been back since.

“When I was growing up, the Regal was really in its prime. It reopened in 1987. It revived in 85′. I think it took them two years to do renovation, reopened it in 1987, and got it a landmark right there in ’92,” he told Rolling Out.

“I saw a flyer the other day, it was Tupac and Biggie’s first time in Chicago on the Regal Theater stage. They were introducing a new [act], 17-year-old Kanye West, at the bottom of the flyer. Crucial Conflict was at the show, Da Brat was at the show, Common was at the show and a couple of other artists, at one show. That was the type of stuff that was going on. I [saw] Common and told him I was about to buy the Regal Theater and he stated how he thought Beyoncé and Jay were going to buy it.”

But Jerald got there first.

He will change the name of the 4,000-seater venture, where he says film mogul Tyler Perry got his start, to the Avalon Regal Theatre “because the building we’re in is the Avalon, which was from 1927 up until the mid ’70s”.

On his hopes for the project, he said: “I want to see people from the community that have made it in the entertainment industry from Chicago come back to support the venue. I want to see all of them.

“I think it’s time for our people in particular in Chicago to stand up for ourselves. We have the brand power, we have the star power. Obviously we have the culture that everybody else has appropriated. It’s time for us to appropriate our own culture and to create that district, and that content and control that content because if we’re not in control then who gets it.”

WORDS: Layla Young


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