The DeBartolo Performing Arts Center

As an usher, you help make our patrons’ experience unique. Your assistance ensures that patrons have an enjoyable visit; your customer service and positive attitude affects how patrons view the performance and their experience. You play a crucial role in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center’s (the center’s) success. We appreciate your commitment and could not do what we do without your support! The information below will help you be a more informed representative of the center:

The official name of the center is the Marie P. DeBartolo Center for the Performing Arts. At the center’s opening, the campus community started to refer to the center as “DPAC.” You may hear members of the campus community still refer to the building as “DPAC,” but we ask that you say “the center” or “DeBartolo Performing Arts Center” when you are not using the official name of the building.

The center strives to be a premier university presenter advancing the depth of discourse and wealth of cultural expression in which lies the transformative power of the arts. With the support of Edward J. DeBartolo and under the direction of President Edward Malloy and Provost Nathan Hatch, the center opened in September 2004. Hardy, Holzman, Pfeiffer and Associates were architects for the project.

The center is a vital and versatile performing arts complex with activities that have quickly become grounded in challenging works in dance, film, music, and theatre. Artistic works are commissioned on themes as diverse as creation and genocide. Faculty resources offer expert commentary and analysis for audiences at the Presenting Series pre-performance talks. Our engagement program (including workshops, lectures, and demonstrations) offers enlightenment to patrons by further developing the arts’ aesthetic at the individual and collective level. The center serves tens of thousands of patrons, more than 11,000 students, and several community groups thanks to our volunteers, student employees, administrators, and countless artists and supporters.

Mission Statement

The DeBartolo Performing Arts Center facilitates learning reflective of the University of Notre Dame’s distinctive liberal arts tradition through the informed exploration of universal truths and beauty. We serve to encourage and celebrate the human spirit through the performing and cinematic arts, which connect, stimulate, and enrich our communities.

Audience and Supporters

The center is one of the area’s largest performing arts organizations serving more than 100,000 university and community patrons. The center hosts events in support of the academy through the Presenting Series, cinema screenings, The Met Live in HD broadcasts, outreach/education/residency initiatives, resident user programming, and internal and external clients.

The center’s operating budget comes from earned income (ticket sales, concessions, rental fees, etc.), with the remainder supported by university allocations, endowment draws, development monies, and grants such as the National Endowment for the Arts. The center is under the direction of the Office of the Provost, the Office of the President, and the University of Notre Dame Board of Trustees. Several business, community and arts supporters, and leaders serve on the Performing Arts Advisory Council. The center has university and community arts partnerships with such groups as the First Year Studies, Center for Ethics and Culture, South Bend Symphony Orchestra, the Fischoff National Chamber Music Association, and Southold Dance Theatre.

Venues and Facilities

The center is the southernmost building on campus and displays traditional collegiate gothic architecture. Inside, sweeping curves provide a sense of performance, wit, and contemporary sophistication. The center includes five unique performance spaces including the Judd and Mary Lou Leighton Concert Hall, a 900-seat concert hall, and the350-seat Patricia George Decio Mainstage Theatre. Other performance venues include the 200-seat THX Michael Browning Family Cinema, the Regis Philbin Studio Theater, a100-seat experimental black box theatre, and the 80-seat Chris and Anne Reyes Organ and Choral Hall.

In addition to performance spaces, the center houses the entire Film, Television and Theatre (FTT) Department, some Music Department faculty offices, and the center’s administrative offices and executive suite. The 150,000 square-foot building also includes a scene shop, the Penote Performers Assembly rehearsal hall, the Founders Room that is used for special events, and two concession areas. The lower level consists of classrooms, film editing bays, a recording studio, costume shop, dressing rooms, rehearsal studio, and set design rooms.

The center is fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, known as ADA, and committed to providing accessibility to all patrons.

Fun Facts About the Center

  • Total cost of building $64 million
  • 150,000 square foot building
  • Crews broke ground in 2001 and the center opened to the public in September 2004
  • Most wood is cherry-stained maple
  • Sits on 7 different foundations to provide acoustic isolation in all venues
  • 5 performance venues

Fun Facts About the Venues

Regis Philbin Studio Theatre

  • Interchangeably called an experimental, black box, or studio theatre
  • Has no fixed seats or stage
  • Total flexibility in set and lighting design

Patricia George Decio Mainstage Theatre

  • 25-feet of wing space on either side of the stage
  • 50 line-set counterweight fly system (for flying props, lights, actors, etc.)
  • A proscenium arch creates a “window” where the play is performed

Judd and Mary Lou Leighton Concert Hall

  • Most acoustically-versatile venue in the center
  • Fiberglass canopy above stage moves as one unit or as six separate units to affect the acoustics
  • Roof is one-foot thick corrugated concrete

Michael Browning Family Cinema

  • Digital cinema equipment upgrade in 2013
  • Houses two 35mm projectors, a 16mm projector, and a high-definition digital projector
  • Used as a classroom during the week
  • A THX Cinema – most rigorous sound system available – enhances crispness and quality of sound

Chris and Anne Reyes Organ and Choral Hall

  • Fritts Organ: $1,000,000 handcrafted organ built by Paul Fritts in Tacoma, WA, designed in the 17th century, northern Germanic style.  Organ is made of 800-year-old Douglas fir from British Columbia and can be pumped manually or electronically.
  • Italian Organ: located in the rear balcony, this Italian Positive organ was built in the late 1600’s by an unknown builder in the region of Naples, Italy. After being in storage for decades, it was in need of major restoration work.   Most of the organ is original, tuned in an old tuning system called meantone tuning, which was Europe’s most successful tuning system of the late 15th century and used widely through the 18th century.
  • Sound lingers for up to 4.5 seconds – unparallel walls help create this long decay time

In addition to the five main venues, there are other spaces we use for performances and events, namely, the Penote Performers Assembly Hall and our terrace near the Irish Green.


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