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Big dreams are coming to life for Teatro Carmen

teatro carmen.JPG
Posted at 6:51 AM, Jul 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-12 09:54:28-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The goal is to bring the 106-year-old Teatro Carmen back to life, bringing theater, music and entertainment back to the venue.

"The Teatro Carmen was built in 1915 and it was built for touring Spanish-language theatrical productions," said Herb Stratford, President of Stratford Art Works.

The spot has been a number of things over the years.

"We spent $940,000 for this building. To kind of see the big picture here, there's basically two buildings. Plus, there's an empty lot that's going to be the outdoor patio," said Stratford.

Big dreams are in store for Teatro Carmen as Stratford is the proud new owner. "Most recently it was owned by the Rollings family and they used it kind of a warehouse and storage space," Stratford said.

His non-profit, Stratford Art Works, started talking with the owners of the property about a year and half ago. "We sort of came together and realized because of our experience with the Fox Theatre, we might be the best people to help bring this building back to life," said Stratford.

Bringing a venue that can seat between 250 to 300 people to Barrio Viejo.
"The Fox is this big 12 hundred seat venue on Congress Street and its sort of exciting to be able to do another building that's so different. It's a smaller building. It has a different history," said Stratford.

That's what made him fall in love with Teatro Carmen. "I fell in love with this building because of the amazing heritage and its location in Barrio Viejo and it's just such a great opportunity," Stratford said.

And there's more than meets the eye. "The front two thirds of this building will be a new bar and restaurant that open up to the patio side."

The process of turning a vision into reality means lots of hard work.
"It will be several million dollars. Don't exactly know honestly. We're still in architectural planning and I think the other thing people want to know is, you know, when and that's also sort of a moving target because it does depend on the money," Stratford said.

The plans are in place to revitalize a priceless piece of Tucson history. "The opportunity to work with the community and programming and doing things like music and dance and film and theater in a space that's a little more intimate is very exciting," Stratford said.

He says they are looking for memories and photographs of Teatro Carmen. If you happen to have any, you can send an email to teatrocarmenaz@gmail dot com.