June 28th, 2018

Booth Theatre opens following $10 million gift from Zide


When global financier Steve Zide (LAW’86) offered a $10 million naming gift for the BU theater then under construction on the Charles River Campus, he suspected the decision might surprise some people. A theater? But as BU trustee Zide tells it, the gift is a fitting, poetic tribute to his theater-loving wife, Janet Zide, and his in-laws, who brought the joy of stage performance into his life and the lives of the Zides’ four children.

Now standing tall atop a former parking lot at 820 Commonwealth Avenue—at the heart of what will eventually be an arts campus within West Campus—the theater bears the names of Jan Zide’s parents: the Joan and Edgar Booth Theatre.

“BU is ascendant in so many disciplines since President Brown became part of the community, and we really feel that performing arts are a critical piece of a great urban university,” said Zide, senior advisor for private equity at the New York offices of Bain Capital, an international multi-asset alternative investment firm. “We wanted to make sure that students interested in performing arts have the opportunity to pursue their passion, the way, for example, medical, law, and business students have the facilities to pursue theirs.”

In announcing the Zides’ gift in early 2017, President Brown emphasized his belief that the arts should be part of every student’s experience at Boston University. “We are deeply grateful to the very generous gift from Steve and Jan Zide—honoring Jan’s parents—that made it possible for us to make this project a reality,” he said.

The Booth Theatre is part of a 75,000-square-foot complex designed by the Boston architectural firm Elkus Manfredi. The larger facility also includes production and costume shops, design labs, classrooms, and a landscaped plaza. It marks the first time in decades that College of Fine Arts performance and production students have been housed in the same dedicated location.

“We all benefit from those who came before us who took the time and interest to make investments and commitments in the future,” says Zide. “We wanted to be part of that 
same cycle, and we’ve been very fortunate to have the ability to invest in the BU community and current and future students.”

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