Exterior rednering of Shirley Tyree theater with text overlay that reads The Shirley Tyree Theater

Performing Arts Legacy Campaign

A new space for community gathering and storytelling made possible through YOUR SUPPORT!

Shirley Tyree Theater Ammenities 90 seat theater gathering area scene shop green room and accessible lobby

In the summer of 2022, The Union for Contemporary Art will break ground on a pivotal next stage of our commitment to support the arts while strengthening our community by creating new space for bold storytelling and community fellowship.

Plans are underway to renovate the historic F.J. Carey Block building at 2401 North 24th Street to be used as a community gathering space: The Shirley Tyree Theater.

Renovation of this historic brick structure will provide expanded opportunities for The Union’s Performing Arts program and breathe new life into a building which has served the North Omaha community for generations. Included in the building renovation plans are spaces for a 90-seat theater, lobby and ticketing area, set-design workshop, and an open-format rehearsal/gathering space.

None of this would be possible without the generous investments of our community. THANK YOU for your support!

Union theater rendering interior lobby with people in line behind a counter

Theater redndering the north side of the building in red brick and glass with a parking lot in the foreground

Union theater rendering south wall Red brick with trees in the foreground

Union theater rendering Interior view of the theater with people taking their seats under low lighting

Union theater rendering exterior view with a glass front and red brick

Shirley Tyree: Our Inspiring Namesake

The Union for Contemporary Art is honored to uplift the legacy of Ms. Shirley Tyree through the Shirley Tyree Theater.

Ms. Shirley Tyree was born in Louisiana on February 22, 1939. It is no coincidence that this community jewel would enter the world during what later would become Black History Month. She moved to Omaha with her family as a child and attended Kellom Elementary and graduated from Tech High School (now the TAC building). Shirley Tyree was one of the first Black Managers at Northwestern Bell Phone Company and one of the initial members of the Nebraska Black Managers Association. Her trailblazing spirit was supported by her strong faith in God. She was a longtime member at Morning Star Baptist Church.

It is an honor for The Union to lift up Ms. Shirley Tyree and shine a light on the strong foundation she helped build that we all currently stand on. It is with great pride that we name our new building after a woman who dedicated her life to making Omaha a better place for us all.

Learn More
Portrait photo of shirley tyree
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Blood at the Root Actor and actress sit back to back together center stage laughing with school books in their laps

Blood at the Root Actress looks out of frame wearing a worried look and holding a protest sign that reads Drop the Charges Against D

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Blood at the Root Actor stands alone on stage wearing an angry expression with a clenched fist mid statement

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Blood at the root two actors sit on either side of the stage which is all dark except for a spotlight on each actor

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Blood at the Root Actor stands alone in darkness looking defiantly out of frame Actress stands alone against a brick wall holding a rope taut between her hands

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Tell martha 1

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Sustaining the Legacy of Performing Arts in North Omaha

Your contribution to the Performing Arts Legacy Campaign will not only help support the vitality of performing arts programming at The Union, but this growth is intimately linked with the vibrancy of our North 24th Street community and its revitalization as the epicenter of cultural life in North Omaha.

Announcing: The Shirley Tyree Performing Arts Grant

Also made possible through your support, The Union is thrilled to announce the launch of a new grant fund dedicated to fostering the next generation of performing artists in our community. Beginning in the fall of 2023, The Union will award a grant in the amount of at least $5,000 annually to BIPOC performing artists in the greater Omaha area!

From theatre and dance to music and spoken word, the Shirley Tyree Theater will provide a versatile space for performances of many kinds. Your donation has a direct impact on future opportunities for artists of diverse disciplines and talents.

Contribute to Legacy
Black and white archive photo of FJ Carey Block building Text overlay reads FJ Carey Block building October 1929

Honoring History: Preserving the F.J. Carey Block Building

The Shirley Tyree Theater will find a home in the historic F.J. Carey Block next door to The Union. The building, which is now 108 years old and in need of significant repairs to prevent further deterioration, was recognized in 2016 by the National Park Service as one of 28 historically-significant buildings contributing to the North 24th and Lake Streets Historic District

For the first several decades of the building’s life it housed multiple laundry businesses including the original Carey Cleaners (the building’s front brick facade still bears the Carey name) and the long-running Standard Laundry Company. During the 1950s and 60s, multiple automotive body shops occupied the space. The most recent tenant of the building was the Simple Simon Day Care.

(Archival photo from the KMTV/Bostwick-Frohardt Photograph Collection, permanently housed at The Durham Museum.)

Theater Advisory and Development Teams

The work of planning, developing, and constructing The Shirley Tyree Theater has been guided by the insight and dedication of many. Our Theater Advisory Committee is filled with performing artists of many disciplines who have worked with The Union for several years and are committed to the growth of performing arts in North Omaha and beyond. Our development team of architects, sound and lighting designers, and construction managers have worked tirelessly to maintain the integrity of this unique building's character here on North 24th Street.

Part of this process has included a concerted effort to connect with and hire BIPOC- and women-owned local subcontractors, particularly those based in North Omaha.

ADVISORY COMMITTEE

+ Anthony Holmes
+ TammyRa Jackson
+ Kathy Tyree
+ Homero Vela
+ Nik Whitcomb

Theater as Community Effort

Photo of actress smiling on stage from the 2019 production The Blues of Knowing Why

Your support of the Performing Arts Legacy Campaign ensures not only the completion of the physical theater but the future growth of our Performing Arts program. This growth allows us to expand our capacity to support the creative and professional practices of actors, writers, dancers, musicians, designers, and so many more.

Since the launch of the program in 2016, The Union has provided over $90,000 in compensation to local performing artists.

The Union’s founder and Executive Director Brigitte McQueen notes: "On behalf of our staff and board, I would like to thank you for your consideration of support for The Shirley Tyree Theater at The Union for Contemporary Art. We launch this initiative feeling deeply honored to be able to shine a light on the legacy of Ms. Tyree, while creating a space that will uplift and celebrate the work of our community’s brilliantly talented performing artists. Once again, I am humbled and grateful to be able to watch The Union grow and thrive through your generosity – thank you for all you do in support of our mission and work!"

CLICK HERE TO CONTRIBUTE TODAY

THANK YOU!

THANK YOU TO OUR FOUNDING DONORS!

  • Questions about the Shirley Tyree Theater project? We would love to hear them! Please reach out by phone at 402-933-3161 or by email at the link below.