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Kravis Center

When Alexander Wallace Dreyfoos Jr. moved to West Palm Beach in 1968, the main performing arts venue in Palm Beach County was the new West Palm Beach Auditorium. Beginning in the late 1970s, Dreyfoos led efforts that culminated in 1992 with the debt-free opening of the $67 million Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts. Dreyfoos brought together friends of philanthropist Raymond Field Kravis (1901-1993) to donate millions in his name, and personally donated at least $6 million.

A proposed site at Currie Park in West Palm Beach met opposition from nearby residents. A second site at Palm Beach Community College in Lake Worth had legal difficulties. Henry John Rolfs, Sr. and David Paladino contributed 5.4 acres of their unbuilt Downtown/Uptown project, now CityPlace. A statue honoring Rolfs adorns Okeechobee Boulevard next to the Kravis Center.

The center originally included a 2,193-seat auditorium (now Dreyfoos Hall), a 230-seat auxiliary hall (now the Cohen Pavilion), an intimate 305-seat theatre (now the Rinker Playhouse), and the 1,800-seat Gosman Amphitheater. In 2003 the $31 million Cohen Pavilion was added, including the Weiner Banquet Center and Gimelstob Ballroom, and the Picower Foundation Arts Education Center with the Persson Rehearsal Hall.

The Kravis Center paved the way for CityPlace, the Palm Beach County Convention Center, and other redevelopment in downtown West Palm Beach, and was a major factor in Palm Beach County’s evolution into Florida’s Cultural Capital.

In 2007 the Palm Beach County Cultural Council honored the Kravis Center with the first Muse Award for Arts Education for its arts education programs, which have become a national model.

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