For many years, the Cultural Center of the Philippines was the sole space dedicated to promoting the arts. Since its inception in 1966, the brutalist masterpiece developed by Leandro Locsin has witnessed world-class performances and works from both local and foreign artists. Now, a new space was built to support the thriving art scene: the BGC Arts Center.
It makes sense that Bonifacio Global City (BGC) is the new home for visual and performing arts. In between the businesses are little slices of art, with public art pieces, murals, art markets, and free performances. I like walking around the city because I get to see street art in the most random of places. And of course, there’s The Mind Museum, the first world-class science museum in the country.
Now, art has found a home with the BGC Arts Center, the centerpiece of BGC’s cultural district. It is the first and only stand-alone theater established through private donations, and aims to inspire the public through its creative projects. It is a collaboration between award-winning architects, designers, and the Bonifacio Art Foundation, Inc. (BAFI), which is in charge of The Mind Museum and cultural activities like exhibitions, workshops, and city-wide festivals. The BGC Arts Center is composed of the Maybank Performing Arts Theater, the Alveo Central Plaza, and the Sun Life Ampitheater.
Maybank Performing Arts Theater
The Maybank Performing Arts Theater is the main building of the BGC Arts Center, and is home to the following spaces:
The Globe Auditorium is a flexible space for theatrical productions and other uses. It comes with retractable seats, a modular resilient platform, and an orchestra pit. If you use the space as an end stage or a concert venue, it can seat up to 527 people. The space is well-designed, and you can still see the nuances of a performance even if you’re in the balcony. The sound system is amazing.
Zobel de Ayala Recital Hall
The Zobel de Ayala Recital Hall is is a 120-square meter hall, and is meant for intimate performances. It can accommodate 20 to 25 people for workshops and classes with movements, and 80 to 100 people for recitals. It has a resilient open flooring, double ceiling height, a mirrored wall, and a portable barre. I watched two performances here and really felt the energy of the show.
Classroom and Exhibit Hall
The classroom and exhibit hall is an intimate space on the third floor where guests can attend workshops and classes. It can also be used as an exhibit space for art. It also has large windows that looks into the Zobel de Ayala Recital Hall on the second floor. As an open layout, it can accommodate up to 50 people.
NutriAsia Del Monte Lobby
The lobby is a flexible space to welcome guests, for receptions, and intermission cocktails. There’s a concession area for refreshments and souvenirs, and a box office to easily purchase tickets. There’s also space for small performances and exhibit panels. It’s a beautiful triple-ceiling lobby with a large painting done by Jaime Zobel de Ayala, but I prefer hanging around outside, with the cool breeze and great view of the sky and the rest of BGC.
I wasn’t able to visit the back-of-house because there were performers, but I was told that they offer complete facilities that offer a world-class experience for performers, such as two dressing rooms that can hold four to six people each (with shower and toilet), two dressing rooms that can hold eight to ten people each (with shower and toilet), a green room, a laundry and wardrobe room, a pantry, and offices for a production manager and stage manager.
Alveo Central Plaza
The Alveo Central Plaza is the center of the lot, with a wide open space with greenery. It’s free to use for the public, and is a great venue to hang out and chill, or to wait for your show. It will be the home of the BGC Offsite Gallery and the BGC Art Mart. The morning I visited was bright and windy, and there were little kids riding their scooters across the plaza.
The art installation right by the entrance is called Founder’s Place, and features the names of the sponsors who were kind enough to help in building the BGC Arts Center. The piece is supposed to be interactive, and transforms as you move around it. It’s a fun way to pass the time!
Dining options are available across the street at The Forum and the Fort Strip, but there’s a 24-hour operational McCafe serving food and drinks exclusively available in the store and in the newly-opened branch in Tagaytay’s Calamba Road. They have croissants, ciabattas, cookies, and cakes. My personal favorite is the ham and cheese sandwiched between a pillowy-soft croissant. For drinks, they have a variety of coffees, hot chocolate, teas, smoothies, and Frappes. The Caramel Frappe was refreshing.
Sun Life Ampitheater
The Sun Light Ampitheater at the BGC Arts Center is an outdoor space for screenings, concerts and festivals. It can comfortably accommodate 300 people. The ampitheater is filled with its own greenery, and I can already imagine night screenings under the stars. Romantic!
To kick off the grand unveiling of the BGC Arts Center, BAFI held the first-ever BGC Arts Center Festival on January 14 and 15, featuring musicals, plays, dance, improv, spoken word, concerts, and book signings. I was able to visit on the first day and I had so much fun seeing breathtaking works in the different venues of the space. I will be writing about it in the coming days!
The BGC Arts Center is located on the corner of 26th Street and 9th Avenue in Bonifacio Global City. For more information, visit the website at www.bgcartscenter.org or its social media pages on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
Interior shots provided by BGC Arts Center.