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Arcade Comedy Theater Makes A Move Down Liberty Avenue To Renovated, Larger Space

Louis Stein
Arcade Comedy Theater
The creative directors of the non-profit Arcade Comedy Theater are preparing for the grand opening of its new space on November 3.

A growing non-profit theater in downtown Pittsburgh has a new home.

Arcade Comedy Theater is moving from its original storefront space on Liberty Avenue, where it’s been since 2013, to a fully renovated building right down the street. The new space more than doubles its capacity to nearly 200 seats between two stages.

Arcade offers about 10 weekly shows, including sketch comedy, stand-up and improv. It’s also enrolled hundreds of students in its comedy classes.

Co-founder Kristy Nolen said they couldn’t continue to grow in their small space, but wanted to stay in the bustling downtown corridor.

“So our fear was that we would get priced out,” she said, “that so many of the buildings are coming back to life, that if we weren’t nimble and quick enough, that we would not be able to find a new home.”

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust owns Arcade’s original and new location. Nolen said the Trust was looking for an arts organization to occupy the new space, and she believes Arcade was chosen because it was seen as a viable business. The Trust subsidizes the rent for Arcade, which Nolen said made it possible to stay downtown.

Nolen said other entertainment options downtown are generally expensive, such as theaters that have limited seasons. What did it cost to move? But she said Arcade is an asset to the downtown landscape because it offers something different for patrons. 

“They can come down, have a very inexpensive night, with very little planning, and I think that’s one of the things Pittsburgh needed in order to make it more vibrant,” she said.

Nolen said Arcade’s new larger main stage and smaller upstairs black box theater will accommodate more diverse shows. The theater also plans to expand its existing children’s programming.

The grand opening weekend includes six shows Friday and Saturday evening.