Fourth Annual Gala and Silent Auction Benefitting the Ansonia Theatre Renovation Project
Thursday, April 10, 2008 Twin Valley Country Club, Wadesboro NC
Silent Art Auction with wine, hors d'oeuvres and live music. Tickets available from the Arts Council at 704-694-4950.
The Ansonia Theatre Project
For 20 years, Anson County community leaders have recognized and discussed the need for an auditorium facility where quality theatrical productions, concerts, dance productions and other live performances could be offered. The dream has been to develop a facility where the talents of local performers could be showcased and the understanding and appreciation of quality arts could be extended to all people.
Because no appropriate facility currently exists in Anson County, local citizens of all ages have been missing opportunities to enjoy, explore and learn from the arts in their own town and county. Some of our residents are able to attend live performances at other venues in our region but a large number of our local children and adults have not had the opportunity to experience live performances beyond local school and church activities. So the "dream" for many years has been to have an auditorium & theater facility where everyone can know the joy, beauty and enrichment that the performing arts offer.
Renovation of the old Ansonia Theater began in late 2006 and all who have worked so hard for its restoration as well as the residents of Anson County are looking forward to the completed project. As the old Ansonia was an all-important stop in a young person's weekend many years ago for a Saturday double feature and a bucket of freshly popped popcorn, the newly renovated Ansonia will be an important element in the cultural life of today's Anson County.
But the "dream" for Anson County included even more than arts education and enrichment because community leaders recognized that -
• An active theater would strengthen local families by providing wholesome recreational opportunities all can enjoy.
• It would build local pride by nurturing the talents of local performers of all ages and providing opportunities for those talents to grow.
• It would increaseeducational opportunities for all students by giving them a chance to experience quality arts that stimulate intellectual development.
• It would strengthen the sense of "community" throughout the county as people from all areas have the opportunity to come together to provide or enjoy performances; and
• It would significantly improve economic development for the entire county by providing quality cultural experiences and entertainment that are both convenient and affordable, thus attracting people from outside as well as inside the county to various activities.
History of The Ansonia Theater
A combination movie and vaudeville theater, the Ansonia was built in 1925 and for decades served as the cultural center for the county. Even as late as the '50s and early '60s, the Ansonia was still showing regular movies with local bands performing after the late show on weekends. Then as television and mall cinemas gained a stronghold in American culture and as people became more mobile, the Ansonia, like most movie theaters in small towns, eventually closed; and although several attempts were made to reopen it, there was no way it could compete with larger cinemas.
However, Anson County leaders have long recognized that this grand old facility can again become the center of cultural events and spark positive development of the total county. Thus, they are seeking to renovate the Ansonia and revitalize it as a performing arts theater and community auditorium.
The Ansonia Theatre Renovation
The dream for the Ansonia consists of restoring the basic structure of the building very closely to that of its peak years. The exterior facade will be returned to its natural brick color with stucco arches, white trim, windows on the top floor, restored marquee and upcoming attractions display cases on each side of a double-door entranceway. The interior walls will be maintained and existing historical fixtures will be featured. The current metal-based cushioned seats are sturdy and will be restored, providing seating in the main auditorium and projecting balcony areas for up to 299 persons. The elevated stage will be extended outward toward the audience to increase performance area and stairs and handicapped lift will permit access to the stage by all persons. Lighting and acoustical aspects will be enhanced. Dressing rooms and connecting stairs from the basement level will be reconstructed. Restroom facilities will be available on the main floor and basement levels with handicapped access provided.
Next door to the Ansonia, the spacious Arts Council office and gallery building will serve as an extended lobby for theater events. What a wonderful dream! When patrons enter the new Ansonia, those who remember it from the past will immediately recognize with pride and joy the structure that provided them so many fond memories. For those who are new to the Ansonia, the renovated facility will be a starting point for building new memories for their lifetime.
The Dream is Becoming Reality
The dream of improving the quality of life for all Ansonians by providing an active auditorium/theater facility has now taken a definite shape and is moving toward becoming a reality. It will be accomplished by converting the historic Ansonia movie theater into a performing arts theater and community auditorium facility for Anson County.
The "dream" is now well on the way toward becoming a reality as many Ansonians have recognized the potential for improving the county and have joined in helping to move the dream toward reality. The previous owners of the Ansonia Theater and the adjoining office building supported the dream by generously donating the two buildings to the Anson County Arts Council, a local non-profit 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to promote and nurture the arts in Anson County. As a result, the Anson County Arts Council has become the lead organization to move the dream forward. The building adjoining the theater has already been remodeled into a combination of office space and lobby gallery that displays the beautiful works of talented local visual artists. The spacious lobby gallery will serve another purpose also, providing needed additional lobby space for future performances and events at the new Ansonia.
The next step in the dream is to renovate and restore the Ansonia itself. To accomplish this, the Anson County Arts Council appointed a task force of local business, arts and other community leaders to study, plan, design and secure funding for the conversion of the historic movie theater into a performing arts and auditorium facility for the county. This group has worked diligently with architects and theater consultants to plan and design the renovations for the theater, striving to protect the architectural and historical significance of the building as much as possible while adding appropriate restroom facilities, handicapped access and safety systems and additional stage performance area.
The Task Force developed a thorough business plan delineating the initial theater renovation costs and plans for ongoing self-sustaining funding for operations via Arts Council staff oversight and management of the facility, plus incoming proceeds from performances, rentals, memberships and arts funding agencies. They developed a comprehensive 3-year fundraising process to involve all facets of the community and they have conducted a very successful large donor campaign, raising over $600,000 to date.
Now that more than 60% of the required funding has been secured, the Task Force is consulting with state government leaders, outside granting foundations and other potential large donors to secure additional funds. In addition, a county-wide community campaign is underway to involve all local corporate and civic entities, as well as enable all individual residents and others with ties to the county to become integrally involved in bringing the dream to reality.
The Dream is Becoming Reality
So the "Dream" is alive, thriving, and moving toward reality. The final construction plans were delivered by the architect in January 2004. The groundbreaking ceremony was scheduled for May 2004, and construction was to begin thereafter.
The Task Force is actively seeking the final funding to enable the total renovation process to continue steadily and be completed as quickly as possible. Over 60% of the projected funding needed for the project has been secured in contributions and pledges. The total projected funding for the project is $1,000,000.
Breakdown of Funding Sources
Foundations $325,000 Corporate Sponsors 60,000 Individuals 15,678 Federal Government 200,000
Join the Dream Team
In the renovated Ansonia, people will be able to experience a broad range of good live entertainment from classical to country, from comedic to dramatic, offering something for everyone. The theater will be a center for school, community and church programs as well as a site for the many possible types of cultural arts activities such as plays, recitals, concerts, speakers, pageants, workshops, seminars and vintage movies. The theater will be used for presenting and promoting the wealth of local talent here in Anson County, as well as enabling Ansonians to experience the talents of traveling professionals. There will be a great emphasis on special activities to serve the thousands of school children in the county to help them grow in their discovery and learning about arts and their cultural heritage.
You are invited to join the Dream Team and help restore this historic and cultural gem, the Ansonia Theater. What a wonderful opportunity to give back to the community and greatly enhance the quality of life for all citizens of Anson County! The Ansonia will be a part of history preserved and will continue to provide aesthetic, cultural and economic benefits to all of Anson County for generations to come. With your support, this dream can come true for present and future generations of our great community and surrounding areas.
Anson County Arts Council Enriching the Cultural Life of Anson County
Nancy Willingham, Executive Director
P.O. Box 332 110 S. Rutherford St. Wadesboro NC 28170 Phone: 704-694-4950 Fax: 704-695-1212