A Filene Center for Today

A Filene Center for Today
May 28, 2022

Driven by her love of nature, education, and the arts, Catherine Filene Shouse donated the land and funds necessary to build the nation’s only National Park for the Performing Arts. For five decades, philanthropy and collaboration have fueled Wolf Trap’s mission to be a cultural haven for the community.

During the last few years, Wolf Trap Foundation and the National Park Service have worked on a series of projects to create even better Wolf Trap experiences for the artists who perform on our stages, audiences, and all Park visitors.

Thanks to a group of visionary donors who are making significant investments in improving the patron and artist experience, Wolf Trap is more welcoming than ever. These extraordinary contributors are part of The Campaign for Wolf Trap: Our Next Chapter—an ambitious initiative supporting the improvement and creation of new amenities at the Park, while growing the Foundation’s endowment. Campaign co-chair and current Wolf Trap Foundation Board member Hillary D. Baltimore notes, “The generous level of commitment from the Foundation Board—starting with the philanthropic leadership of our Board Chairman Dan D’Aniello and his wife, Gayle—is preserving and improving Wolf Trap for people to continue making cherished memories together.”

New Look for the Filene Center

As fans visit the majestic and architecturally stunning Filene Center, they’ll find that the venue’s exterior has been refreshed with new, bright honey-colored Douglas fir siding that warmly invites audiences into the space. Kenneth Bigley, Wolf Trap National Park’s Acting Superintendent, explains, “The investment in re-cladding the Filene Center helps to ensure the integrity of the building and is a striking improvement to an already impressive structure. The NPS is proud to make these investments that will allow the Filene Center to serve the public and carry out the Park’s performing arts mission.” 

Refreshed siding on the Filene Center.

Audiences returning for the first time in a few years will find that the tented decks at the Park have been transformed into permanently covered Pavilions. The Pavilions, also built of Douglas fir, complement the new Filene Center exterior. Now, from the Filene Center to Ovations and the Associates, Terrace, and Encore Circle Lounge Pavilions, the structures are all in harmony with the Park’s natural surroundings.

Tented decks were transformed into permanently covered Pavilions.

Stellar Seats for Spectacular Shows

While the fresh siding may be the first change patrons see upon entering the Park, audiences will be happy to find brand new seats and an enhanced seating layout. The interior of the Filene Center now boasts reconfigured seating that encourages accessibility and improves audience safety. The design features two new center aisles for the front Orchestra and a crosswalk along the back of the Orchestra section. Wolf Trap President and CEO, Arvind Manocha, elaborates more on these changes saying, “The Filene Center renovations greatly improve access and simplify the seating process, making a safer and more enjoyable experience for all of our visitors. All of us at the Foundation are deeply grateful to the visionary donors who share our commitment to make meaningful and long-lasting upgrades that benefit the entire community.” 

New Filene Center seating configuration.

Over the last two years, important enhancements also have been made to the theatrical infrastructure—including stage rigging and an overhauled sound system—enabling performances to look and sound better than ever. Backstage artist spaces were extensively renovated to offer performers flexible, functional, and stylish dressing rooms; inviting lounges and reception rooms; an enlarged café and professional kitchen; and much more. Award-winning architecture, design, and planning firm Gensler, who also designed the new Pavilions and Filene Center seating, created the beautiful and comfortable environment for artists as they prepare to take the stage.   

Renovated backstage artist spaces at the Filene Center.

A Bright Future

Philanthropy and partnership will continue to support Wolf Trap’s evolution and expansion for years to come. The Campaign for Wolf Trap: Our Next Chapter Co-Chair and former Foundation Board member Karen Schaufeld reflects, “It is my hope that Wolf Trap lasts for generations, and is there for my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. I’ve been so impressed by the outpouring of support to continue enhancing Wolf Trap as a great community asset.” 

Photo Credits: L.F. Jennings, Arvind Manocha, Sara Shaffer.