Plans to move the Lawrence Community Theatre to a new site near Sixth and Wakarusa soon will take center stage.
Mary Doveton, executive director of the theater, confirmed the organization will kick off a public fundraising drive after the theater recently received a major gift.
“We’re thrilled, absolutely thrilled,” Doveton said. “It has been a long time coming, but I think people will be very excited to see the plans and the progress we’ve made.”
The theater will unveil its plans and announce its formal fundraising goals at a 5 p.m. event on Sept. 8 at the theater, 1501 N.H.
The developers of the Bauer Farm project — which is along Sixth Street between Wakarusa Drive and Folks Road — long have offered to donate a piece of ground for the theater to be part of the development. Mike Treanor, a lead developer for the Bauer Farm project, said the site is near the center of the property and would give the theater a high-profile location in front of Lawrence’s Free State High. The theater would be a bit west of a proposed site for a Lowe’s store that developers have proposed.
“We’re still committed to having a mix of uses out there that people want to go to,” Treanor said. “We’ve always thought it would be a great fit for everything that we want to do out there.”
Doveton said the location will work well for the theater’s patrons too.
“We just think it is a really exciting opportunity. About 65 percent of our season ticket holders live in the 047 or 049 zip codes,” Doveton said, referring to the zip codes that cover much of the western portion of Lawrence. “This site certainly will be more convenient to get to.”
It also will allow for a significantly larger theater. The current theater, located in a former church building, seats 159 people. Doveton declined to go into details about how large a new theater might be, but said space considerations would be a major part of any move.
Doveton said the theater also was excited about moving to a more commercial area where theater patrons can see a production and have dinner and drinks all in the same area. Currently, the theater is in a largely residential area.
“And I think we’ll draw more crowds from outside the city,” Doveton said. “I already have people from Topeka telling me that.”
The theater has been in its current location since 1984, and stages six to eight major productions a year, in addition to children’s programs.
Doveton said if the fundraising campaign goes well, she hopes to break ground on a new theater in late 2011.