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Esther Simplot Performing Arts Academy expanding downtown campus

Esther Simplot Performing Arts Academy
Posted at 9:37 AM, Feb 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-26 11:37:10-05

BOISE, Idaho — The Esther Simplot Performing Arts Academy announced Friday it is expanding its campus in downtown Boise. ESPAA is located in the Cultural District and the expansion is happening through the acquisition and renovation of the building at 515 S. 9th Street.

ESPAA was founded in 1992 by Esther Simplot with the support of her husband J.R. (Jack) Simplot and the Boise community. The organization provides a permanent home for the Boise Philharmonic, Ballet Idaho and Opera Idaho.

The newest addition to the campus includes a large rehearsal hall and office space. The addition will increase Opera Idaho’s artistic expansion in the Boise community.

“To have a dedicated rehearsal space in the same building as our offices will bring cohesion to our rehearsal process,” said Mark Junkert, General Director, Opera Idaho. “To hear music more often, even if in the background, will be a big plus for our staff. Further, the expansion of the campus shows the wonderful commitment of ESPAA to all the organizations under its umbrella. I don’t know of another campus for the arts quite like ours in the entire U.S.”

The original building at 516 S. 9th Street housed the Boise Philharmonic, Ballet Idaho and Opera Idaho since it was acquired and ESPAA has continued to grow with the organizations. A second facility was purchased in 1996 at 501 S. 8th Street to support Ballet Idaho's need for dance studios for the professional company and student dance academy.

In 2007, a third building was purchased and renovated at 513 S. 8th Street to provide rehearsal space for Opera Idaho’s expanded programming.

“The arts bring beauty to our lives, something we all need, now maybe more than ever,” said Simplot. “ESPAA’s success in supporting the arts in our community has surpassed my fondest dreams. The addition of this new space ensures that Opera Idaho, Boise Philharmonic, and Ballet Idaho can continue to grow and thrive well into the future. I am pleased to have been a part of their success. Thank you to EKC Construction and erstad ARCHITECTS for their unwavering support of this project during this difficult time.”