About Us

The Claire Tow Theatre

This magnificent art-deco, 2,380-seat theatre, with its stainless-steel accents and rich, cherry-wood side panels, was originally named The Walt Whitman Theatre after the Brooklyn-born poet Walt Whitman. The venue opened in 1955 as the centerpiece of Brooklyn College's Performing Arts Center. The theater is currently undergoing structural maintainance and will reopen as the Claire Tow Theatre in 2019 as part of the new Leonard & Claire Tow Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College.

For over more than a half-century, some of the world's beloved and most accomplished artists have graced the footlights -- from the likes of the great classic legends such as Leontyne Price (who opened the inaugural season), Zubin Mehta, The Joffrey Ballet, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Marilyn Horne, Itzhak Perlman, Peter Martins, Luciano Pavarotti, Dame Joan Sutherland and Edward Villella, to popular headliners like Tony Bennett, Pearl Bailey, Alan King, Linda Ronstadt, Arlo Guthrie, The Beach Boys, Victor Borge, Santana....well, the list goes on and on.

In addition to the live performances, the theatre also boasts a state-of-the-art cinema sporting a 40ft CinemaScope screen and Six Channel Total Surround MegaSound.™ This facility, with its ability to screen motion pictures at the highest presentation values, is unique among all the CUNY colleges, affording our students and movie-loving Brooklynites, the opportunity to experience motion pictures the way they were intend to be seen, on the giant screen with ultra-high resolution film imagesand in breathtaking 360° sound in a theatre environment designed in the style of the grand movie palaces of the pre-multiplex era.

Brooklyn Center CInema (originally The BC Cinema Festival), for years had been host to the BC Film Department’s Annual Student Film Showcase as well as a number of other Brooklyn-based film festivals including the long-running Educational Theatre Guild series, The Brooklyn International Film Festival, The Fantasy and Sci-Fi Festival and the prestigious AMPAS Student Academy Awards, all finding a home in this impressive venue.

Over the years, Brooklyn Center Cinema's eclectic mix of classics and off-beat gems has been dubbed "Brooklyn first and finest retrospective and alternative movie showplace." The cinema's Saturday afternoon Kinderfest delighted the kids and introduced thousand of youngsters to the excitement of the movie-going experience with cartoons, animations and children’s films that both entertainedand edified.

In the late 1990s, the Claire Tow Theatre underwent a multi-million dollar renovation and a much needed face-lift that includeda new grand curtain, sweeping cheery-wood side panels, draperies and refurbished seats. The exterior walls were adorned with five story high, stainless-steel wall sculptures.

The Grand Lobby boasts cheery-wood canopies and mirror accents, an inlaid terrazzo floor as well as the unique and stunning floor-to-ceiling Tafrry-Grey marble walls. An expanded concessions area was also added.

Rent this Theatre! The Claire Tow Theatre, as well as its spacious Mezzanine Lounge (which can be used as a stand-alone rental space) is available to organizations and community groups for their open-to-the-public events. If you are interested in presenting your function in this impressive facility, be it a graduation, variety show, business meeting, etc., we have the professional staff and the technical expertise to make it a memorable event.


Host your next event in the elegant, 2350 seat art-deco Claire Tow Theatre (formally the Walt Whitman Theatre),

Currently the facility is under renovation.