Before oil barons brought wealth and fame to the region, Tulsa defined itself by cultural sophistication. Replacing the city’s first municipal theater, erected in 1914, the Tulsa Performing Arts Center opened its doors in March 1977. Constructed with a combination of public and private funds, the Center is owned and operated by the City of Tulsa. Local arts organizations, entertainment promoters, performers and the citizens of Tulsa are the PAC’s main clients.
The building of the PAC was the result of a 1973 bond issue. Civic leaders John H. Williams and Leta Chapman posed a challenge to Tulsa voters: If citizens would vote to fund half of the total cost for a new performance space, Williams and Chapman would raise a matching amount. The challenge was taken by Tulsa voters, and the new center held its first concert on March 19, 1977, featuring the Tulsa Philharmonic and jazz great Ella Fitzgerald.