Renovations

  • January 11, 2017

    Westerly, RI – Team transforming Westerly theater into arts ‘epicenter’

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    From The Day: After making significant investments in Watch Hill and downtown Westerly, Charles “Chuck” Royce is now part of a team focusing on the transformation of the old United Theater into a culture and arts education center where students will be able to learn, artists will display their work or perform and the public will come to be entertained. “Of all my downtown projects, this is real and symbolic. It’s smack in the middle,” Royce said in an interview. The newly named Ocean Community United Theatre at 5 Canal St. was acquired in 2006 by the Westerly Land Trust as part of its urban initiative and is now the centerpiece of the estimated $15 million arts and education center. The onetime vaudeville theater, opened in 1926 and later converted to a single-screen cinema, was closed in 1986 and shuttered for two decades before it was acquired by the land trust. Three years after buying the theater, the land trust bought the former Montgomery Ward building next door, and the two structures will be married together for the project that will include a music school, spaces for rehearsals, workshops and master classes, and studios for teaching and producing film and video, live performances and fine arts. There will also be a performing arts center, cinema and art gallery — all with a focus on educating and entertaining. Royce and others on the United Theatre board, who have been meeting monthly to move the multimillion-dollar project forward, foresee the arts complex as a downtown magnet that will draw artists and performers, students and audiences for the shows, concerts, exhibits and classes. “We believe it will be an epicenter of entertainment,” said Bill McKendree, president of the board. “Our vision is not just that it will be a facility, but that it will be a regional mechanism to facilitate the arts.” McKendree said the group envisions year-round classes, events and activities, and maybe a Spoleto-like festival similar to the famed 17-day event held in Charleston, S.C., each spring. Spoleto packs crowds into performance spaces around the city to see and hear both well-known and lesser-known performers doing everything from dance and opera to symphony and jazz music. “Our picture is bigger than the building itself,” he said. “Like could we have an opera festival or taste of Italy for the month of June?”

  • December 22, 2016

    Monon, IN – Renovations aimed at bringing Monon Theatre back to its original glory

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    From WLFI.com: A historical movie theater is being restored back to its original beauty.

    Standing for nearly eight decades, the Monon Theatre has served as a hub for local entertainment in the town. The theater was built in 1938, after both of the town’s movie theaters burned down.

    After closing its doors more than 10 years ago, the building has since started deteriorating. With hopes of restoring it back to its old glory, the Monon Civic Preservation Society purchased the building in 2013.

    “We are very excited, and enthusiastic and appreciative of all the support that we’ve had from former residents and locals and businesses,” preservation secretary Julie Gutwein said.

    The group has since raised more than $100,000 through fundraising, which helps pay for much needed upgrades and improvements.

    Gutwein said she hopes to see the theater bustling with business once again.

    “We have a lot going on in the community but there’s not an entertainment center – nothing for the young people,” said Gutwein.

    Recently, the Tippecanoe Arts Federation presented the group with a $42,500 grant to pay for a new exterior marquee, which will be placed at the theater’s entrance.

    Preservation president Dave Stimmel said he’s excited to see a piece of the town’s history slowly being brought back to life.

    “We hope to be having events here, centered around the theater,” said Stimmel. “We think we can get some live entertainment in since we’ve got a venue to do that with.”

    Stimmel said overall, the project will cost around $1.5 million.

    As far as a timeline, Stimmel said, “We’d hope in a couple more years, we should be able to be having an open house and open the doors. We’re hoping.”

    Stimmel said the marquee is currently being built in Delphi.

    If all goes as planned, the sign should be up by next spring.

  • December 16, 2016

    Kankakee, IL – Paramount ditches old seating for recliners

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    From the Daily Journal:
    The longtime theater in downtown Kankakee on North Schuyler Avenue is moving into the next generation of the movie-going experience, swapping out more than 860 seats for 300 power recliners.

    “We’re doing a complete refurbishing of the auditorium,” said Mark Mazrimas, marketing manager for Classic Cinemas. “We’ve had to prep the floor. We’re doing new carpeting. We’re redoing the walls and putting in new aisle lighting.”

    The biggest change though will be from going from an 868-seat auditorium to one with 300-plus recliners.

    “The math is not great when you go from an 868 seating to 300-plus seating,” Mazrimas said. “At the Paramount with 300 seats, you’re losing 60 percent of your seating. But at 300 seats, it will be the largest venue in Illinois with power recliners. Nobody has an auditorium with as many seats.”

    Classic Cinemas, headquartered in Downers Grove, believes the recliners will boost attendance at Paramount. Its main auditorium was its second-largest venue.

    “The industry is saying you will see a 50 percent increase in attendance,” Mazrimas said. “We can say from what we’ve seen, we have two locations that made the switch, is a 50 percent increase from the new seating.”

    Classic Cinemas also owns and operates Meadowview Theatre in Kankakee.

    The new carpeting already is down in the large auditorium, which has been closed for a couple weeks, but the smaller auditoriums at Paramount have been showing movies. The seating is scheduled to arrive this week, and Paramount is planning to reopen the renovated theater in a week.

    “We’re really going to shoot for Universal [Pictures] opening of ‘Sing’ for the first movie,” Mazrimas said. “That will be on Tuesday the 20 at 6 p.m., and we’ll show matinees on Wednesday the 21.”

    “People seem to like the comfort they’re getting with it,” Mazrimas added. “It creates a whole new world for us.”

    This is just the first phase of Classic Cinemas investment in its Kankakee theaters.

    “The plan in 2017 is to renovate the rest of Paramount and get Meadowview started with an expansion and the new seating,” Mazrimas said. “Meadowview is a little further off. The plan is to get it to six auditoriums. … That’s down the road.”

    Cinemark in Northfield Square mall in Bradley installed recliners in its auditoriums in the past year.

    Overall, domestic movie attendance has stayed relatively flat throughout the past several years, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. The number of tickets sold in the U.S. slipped 1.5 percent from 2012 to 2013, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. The decline comes amid growing competition from video-on-demand streaming services such as Netflix and other entertainment options.

  • Chicago, IL – Historic Lincoln Square theater reveals $5 million makeover

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    From Curbed Chicago: Built in 1918, Lincoln Square’s old Davis Theatre is preparing to open its doors this week after an extensive $5 million overhaul. Originally known as the Pershing Theater, the 98-year-old building at 4614 N. Lincoln Avenue is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The remodeled Davis brings back numerous cues from its Art Deco past such as red curtains and detailed moldings and shows off newly-uncovered original organ pipes in its main theater.

    The renovation work was a collaborative effort between Kennedy Mann Architecture and Analogous Design and saw the building’s two rear theaters combined into a single 300-seat venue with stadium seating. Two smaller 150-seat theaters have also be restored and upgraded with new bathrooms and state-of-the-art projection equipment.

    The revamped Davis—along with an adjacent 3,500-square-foot dining and cocktail establishment known as Carbon Arc Bar & Board—will open for business this Thursday. The theater’s grand opening coincides with its screening of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

  • Dennis, MA – Cape Cinema launches campaign to restore chairs

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    From the Cape Cod Times: The historic Cape Cinema is planning some restorations, and the job will start with what most affects audience comfort: the seats.

    Cinema managers and the Cape Cod Center for the Arts Inc., which owns the building, recently launched a campaign to raise more than $165,000 to restore the 277 original art deco chairs that were built back in 1930 specifically for the movie theater space – and specifically to match its massive, celestially themed ceiling mural.

    While a small portion of the chairs have been previously patched, covered, reupholstered or replaced, this will be the first time in the intervening 86 years that the seats have been rebuilt to the original vision.

    Synthomas Upholstery in Hyannis is due to take each chair apart and, by hand, rebuild and reupholster it in tangerine suede to match the original plan, according to Eric Hart, who operates the theater. While the covers will be fire-proof and stain- and rub-resistant, there will also be padding and support added. Contemporary patrons will likely welcome those additions, Hart notes, especially for the multi-hour simulcasts of live opera, theater and ballet the cinema has offered in recent years.

    About half of the money (so close to $80,000) needs to be raised by the end of the year for the project to go forward, says general manager Hugh Hart. Once repairs begin, 15 chairs are scheduled to be restored by hand per week, with the project taking more than five months while the cinema remains open.

    The moviehouse will likely shut down for a couple of weeks in spring, Eric Hart says, to finish up the work and make other changes (including new carpeting, sealing the floors and rebuilding the lobby concession stand in an art deco style) before the 2017 summer season begins.

    Although all donations are welcome, the campaign urges patrons to donate $600 for the cost of restoring one chair (which includes the floor work). Those who do will have their name engraved on a plaque on the chair, get free admission to movies there for a year and, according to a fundraising letter from Hart and center president Leslie A. Gardner, “become a part of the ongoing legacy of this historic building.”

    Pretty much every part of the cinema has an art-related history – including those chairs. Raymond Moore, founder of the 90-year-old Cape Playhouse next door, opened the summer movie theater in 1930, with New York architect Alfred Easton Poor designing the facade using Centerville’s Congregational Church as a model.

    The auditorium was created in art deco style and the arm chairs designed by Vienna-born Paul T. Frankl – considered one of the most influential artists of the American art deco period, according to cinema lore – through his New York City gallery. The chairs were produced by the Johnson Furniture Company with black lacquer frames and tangerine suede, meant to complement the cinema’s 6,400-square-foot ceiling mural of the heavens designed by American painter, printer and illustrator Rockwell Kent.

    The chairs, according to Eric Hart, were individually cut for a specific space in the theater, with legs different sizes because of the sloped seating. The three dozen or so chairs in the balcony were replaced sometime in the 1970s – before Hart was involved – with flip-down movie-theater chairs and those are not part of the current restoration plan. But the extra originals from that balcony replacement have, over the years, been used to fill in for broken chairs downstairs. Chair legs have had to be trimmed, though, so the replacement chairs would fit specific spaces, Hart notes.

    Regular patrons know the current chairs have white seat-covers, which Hugh Hart believes may have been originally used to protect the seats when the summer-only theater was shuttered. More recently, the covers have obscured rips and wear as the year-round use of the theater over the past decade has accelerated deterioration. Some of the chairs were also damaged decades ago, Eric Hart says, when the sprinkler system was tripped during the winter and poured 2 feet of water into the theater.

    Restoring the seats has been under discussion for a decade and multiple companies were consulted and explored. Acknowledging such a large fundraiser is “a risk,” Eric Hart says he hopes the major community effort needed to restore the seats will also be the start of a wider push to raise money to restore the Rockwell Kent mural, too.

    There could be “a whole movement to restore the theater rather than just maintain it,” he says. “We could make it as beautiful as it was when it opened in 1930.”

    But, the Harts hope, with the comfort level desired by 21st-century patrons.

  • December 14, 2016

    Indianapolis, IN – Owner of historic Rivoli Theatre hits revival milestone

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    From ibj.com: Supporters of the historic Rivoli Theatre on East 10th Street have hit an important milestone for stabilizing the fragile structure.

    The building’s owner, the Rivoli Center for the Performing Arts, announced Monday that it thinks the group has raised enough money to finish installing a new roof.

    The not-for-profit received $300,000 through a community development block grant, pushing the total raised to more than $500,000.

    Jim Kelly, the group’s president, told Property Lines in an e-mail that members “have fingers crossed hoping this will be enough.”

    They plan soon to release the bid package to get estimates from contractors. If all goes well, they hope the entire roof project will be finished by next fall.

    It’s been a monumental undertaking to get a roof installed—the first step in saving the building that opened in 1927 as Universal Studios’ first Indiana theater.

    The Rivoli Center for the Performing Arts put a new roof over the auditorium portion of the building in May 2014 and will spend a total of nearly $1 million to complete the roof repairs.

  • December 2, 2016

    Gooding, ID: Gooding nonprofit pushes to renovate historic theater

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    From magicvalley.com:
    The roof on the historic Schubert Theatre is leaking, damaging nearly 100-year-old hand-painted canvasses and interior molding.

    The theater, built by Frank Gooding — elected Idaho governor in 1904 and a U.S. senator in 1920 — is an iconic building along the small town’s Main Street. Community leaders hope to restore it to its former glory.

    Two years after it was formed, nonprofit organization GREAT Inc. — Gooding Restoration for Entertainment, Arts & Theater — is about halfway to its $63,000 fundraising goal to replace the roof.

    “It’s a real landmark here in Gooding,” Mayor Walt Nelson said. “I’d like to see it back to where it’s being used.”

    So far, the nonprofit has about $30,000 to replace the roof and is waiting to hear back about a few grants.

    “We can’t do anything inside until we get the roof on,” building owner and Gooding resident Charmy LeaVell said.

    The nonprofit — which has a seven-member board and a core group of volunteers — wants to replace the roof this spring. Its efforts to raise money include bake sales and writing grant proposals.

  • Steubenville, OH – Concrete company helping to revive the Grand Theatre stage

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    From WTOV-9: The Grand Theatre in downtown Steubenville has seen a massive amount of reconstruction during the past several years.

    And a crucial piece of the historical building – it’s stage – was worked on Monday, free of charge, thanks to the folks at Byers Concrete.

    “If this place can get rolling, the sky is the limit on what they can do with it,” said Jonathan Byers, owner of the concrete business.

    Byers said when he came down and saw what it entailed, he immediately knew he was in.

    “This is exciting to me,” he said. “Because the atmosphere walking into this building, the history behind it, and just walking in here, it kind of gives you a different, weird kind of energy."

    The theatre has seen a number of volunteers and businesses donate in some fashion during the past 6 years.

    “I think without that, we wouldn’t get it done,” said Scott Dressel, president, Grand Theatre Restoration Project. “Especially in a community that has been struggling as hard as Steubenville.”

    “Anybody that is interested in putting up about 10,000 square foot of drywall on a ceiling that’s 5/8th thick, we need someone to do that,” Dressel said with a laugh.

    Byers hopes, like has, that others will follow suit.

    “There’s a lot of people that maybe don’t realize how big of a deal this is,” Byers said. “If this place could get kickin again, it might open up something big down here.

    “Little positive things like this, hopefully it’ll boost something bigger, and then it’ll overcast all that negativity that goes on around this area."

    If you would like to lend a hand and volunteer at the Grand Theatre, you can contact Dressel at 740-632-2899.

  • November 30, 2016

    Jennings, LA – $75,000 face-lift in works for Strand Theater

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    From The American Press: A restored marquee and a new paint job will soon greet visitors to the historic Strand Theater in downtown Jennings. Work has begun on a $75,000 face-lift project, which is expected to continue through the spring.

    “The Strand Theater is our pride and joy on Main Street, and it just needed a face-lift,” said City Project Coordinator Dusty Chaisson.

    The theater, built in 1939, still hosts plays, music shows, classic movies, pageants and other events, but was “looking rundown,” said manager Lin Fake.

    “We want the public to be proud and see Main Street Jennings for what it was back in the day,” Chaisson said. “We are very proud to try to restore the pride and take care of a historical structure that offers service to the community that so many other cities do not have.”

    Not many old historical buildings like the Strand Theater are still being used today, he said. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

    The old marquee has been removed and is being restored, cracks in the facade are being repaired and windows are being replaced. Crews are also working to repaint the exterior in the theater’s original colors, which were hidden under layers of paint.

    “It is going to be a painted lady, like it originally was,” Fake said. The retro colors will include hues of violet, red and yellow.

    The theater last underwent renovations just prior to the 1993 Hollywood-style premiere of John Sayles’ “Passion Fish,” which was filmed in the Jennings and Lake Arthur area.

  • November 23, 2016

    Tacoma, WA – Broadway Center to kick off $6.5M campaign to restore Tacoma’s theaters

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    From the News Tribune: Comfy seats that help the acoustics. New plaster and paint. An outdoor performance plaza. Seismic safety. Symphony and band concerts in Tacoma’s Armory.

    Those are some of the additions the Broadway Center is planning as part of the 2018-19 restoration of the 1918 Pantages Theater.

    But first it must raise the final $6.5 million of a $24.5 million budget to pay for it. That campaign will kick off Monday in the Pantages lobby with a presentation, design previews and a sample of the new seats.

    “We are setting up the Pantages to serve the South Sound community for the next 100 years,” said Sara Kendall, campaign chairwoman and board member for the Broadway Center, which manages the city-owned Pantages, Rialto and Theater on the Square.

    “We want to keep it as a citizens’ asset, but we need to involve the whole community (in fundraising).”

    Of the total budget, $15 million has been secured, with $8 million from the city of Tacoma and $7 million from tax credits. Another $3 million from the state is to be confirmed.

    Kendall and Broadway Center Executive Director David Fischer say they hope most of the remaining $6.5 million will be raised before construction starts on the historic theater in May 2018.

    Any gaps are expected to be filled from money raised through 2019 from donors rewarded with their names noted on their seats.

    The Pantages and the adjacent Theater on the Square are to reopen in October 2019, Fischer said.

    Exterior work on the building — costing $2 million and completed over the summer — included cleaning, new windows, terra cotta repair and a paint job, including the bright red blade sign.

    Other elements of the restoration already announced include:

    ▪ Seismic refitting in a new design by the Tacoma design-engineering firm AHBL that lowers costs to $8.3 million.

    ▪ New seats for both theaters that will enhance acoustics, as well as a seat redesign in the Pantages with a center aisle and narrower rows that adds 140 seats to the 1,160 capacity, plus redesign of box seating.

    ▪ Restoration of plaster and paintwork.

    ▪ New light fittings for the house.

    ▪ A 14-foot, two-story extension to the building in the loading zone between the Pantages box office and stage door, allowing for quicker and cheaper set loading.

    ▪ ADA-friendly drop-off zone.

    ▪ Custom-built acoustic shell for the Pantages stage, with costs possibly shared by the Symphony Tacoma.

    ▪ An improved lobby for the Theater on the Square, including a door leading to the park area (which eventually might be redesigned), more restrooms and a permanent exhibit on civic leadership in Tacoma.

    New to the restoration plans is $1.1 million for outfitting the Armory for performances during the Pantages’ closure.

    Originally dropped as too expensive, work on the historic brick building at 715 S. 11th St. will include modifying its steep loading ramp, plus additions inside to improve the boomy acoustics. These could range from baffles to drapes to spray-on acoustic foam, said Fischer, who doesn’t know the details.

    The fund will pay for portable equipment such as seating, risers and lights that can be used in other venues.

    It also will offset financial losses for the two resident arts organizations that might use the venue — Symphony Tacoma and the Tacoma Concert Band — and the Broadway Center itself.

    The Armory is owned by developer Fred Roberson, but its street-level drill floor is managed by the Broadway Center, and Roberson has promised to donate the building to the nonprofit center in his will.

    In addition, he has installed more restrooms on the drill floor level and is working to renovate the northern end into dressing rooms and a green room by 2018.

    Yet, as Fischer acknowledges, the building wasn’t built for instrumental acoustics.

    “It’s pretty bad right now,” said Robert Musser, director of the Tacoma Concert Band, who held a trial rehearsal there in October. “The acoustics are really poor for any large ensemble: too bright, too loud, too harsh and hard to hear lines.

    “I’m sure there’s a way to make it acceptable, with enough money.”

    Other arts organizations will use the Rialto or the Theater on the Square, or — as the Tacoma City Ballet is doing – venues outside Tacoma.

    Also new to the plans is an outdoor plaza on the grassy slope between the Pantages lobby and the street.

    Graded at lobby level and including benches and a small stage, the area will be able to be covered, allowing for outdoor busking and performances. An electronic reader board on the street side will replace the light bulb marquee.

    Acoustic amplification initially included in the plans has been dropped due to costs and because it would impinge on historic plasterwork in the Pantages.

    About $2 million will go toward the fundraising campaign and other costs.

    Finally, $2.3 million initially intended for an endowment fund has been allocated to 10 years of future programming by the Broadway Center, which is a separate producing entity as well as a contracted theater manager.

    The programming will include in-house productions, education and community showcases, Fischer said, and free tickets or events. There also will be an annual leadership program in collaboration with the University of Washington Tacoma and the Washington State History Museum.

    “The Pantages is a treasure, but I’m particularly interested in the programming fund,” said state Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, one of the many elected officials headlining the campaign. “The arts in Tacoma are so important for the growth of the city … and the Broadway Center has done a lot to engage really diverse communities.

    “I’m very supportive of keeping that going so that the arts are important for every person in our community, not just some.”

    Fischer sees the campaign as a continuation of the Broadway Center’s history of bringing government and community together for the arts.

    “It was the Broadway Center who started the first private-public partnership (for city development) in 1979, with the saving of the Pantages,” he said. “We’re proud of that.”

    For Kendall, the value of the $24.5 million restoration lies in a place for Tacoma to gather.

    “The theaters represent the heartbeat of the community, a place where we come to have our minds opened and share experiences,” she said. “This becomes a place for bringing the community together.”

    Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/article115935283.html#storylink=cpy