Archive for Friday, July 22, 2011

Theatre Lawrence raises more than $5 million needed for new $6.2 million building

Group needs to raise rest of funds by end of September

July 22, 2011


If we were at the theater, the lights now would be flickering to signal the start of the third and final act.

Leaders with Theatre Lawrence announced Friday that their efforts to raise funds for a $6.2 million theater building have passed the $5 million mark. But the group also is warning that it has only until the end of September to secure pledges for the remaining $1.1 million.

“It has been so wonderful how the entire community has gotten behind this,” said Mary Doveton, executive director of Theatre Lawrence. “Now, we just want to encourage everyone to help us take that last step to make this happen.”

The project has received $1.5 million in out-of-state challenge grants. A condition of those grants is that the theater meet its fundraising goal by this fall. If the effort falls short, the theater will lose the $1.5 million in grants.

Theater leaders received a major boost in recent weeks with a $300,000 donation from Bobby and Eleanor Patton of Lawrence. Theatre Lawrence — formerly known as Lawrence Community Theatre — also received a sizable donation from the Sunderland Family Foundation of Overland Park.

Plans call for the theater to build a new 300-seat facility in the Bauer Farm development near Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive. The development group for Bauer Farm already has donated the property for the theater. Doveton said if fundraising concludes in September, construction could begin in the late winter or early spring. Construction is expected to last 12 to 15 months.

Doveton said convincing donors that a newer facility is needed has not been difficult. The theater currently is housed in a 65-year old church building at 15th and New Hampshire streets.

“Everybody is interested in more comfortable seats,” Doveton said of her discussion with donors. “After that, they are most interested in parking, accessibility and restrooms.”

The new facility will almost double the seating capacity, will no longer require patrons to use on-street parking, and will have brand new amenities, including a dedicated area for children’s programs.

Doveton said the group now is trying to get its fundraising message out to the broader community. She said she’s optimistic the organization will meet its goal.

“People are excited about theater in Lawrence,” Doveton said. “In the past year, of our six major productions, three have sold out and we’ve had to add performances and we still have turned people away.”


Liberty275 6 years, 10 months ago

Ms Doveton is one of the finest advocates for the arts this town has. She competes head-on with a world-class roadhouse, two well equipped (and surprisingly innovative) university theatres and the LAC. And she does it very well... in an old church, mostly with volunteers.

She is a shining star... and my favorite drink hawker.

d_prowess 6 years, 10 months ago

So you are saying that a group wanted something to be built and are working to raise the funds all on their own?! This is a quite a concept!

Charles McPheeters 6 years, 10 months ago

Yes! so different from the sports crazy folks who want taxpayers to foot their desires.

jafs 6 years, 10 months ago

I guess you missed the part about a $1.5 million grant.

George_Braziller 6 years, 10 months ago

And you missed the part about them having to raise $6.2 million before they can get that $1.5 million grant.

jafs 6 years, 10 months ago


"working to raise the funds all on their own" is incorrect, given the grant.

Bassetlover 6 years, 10 months ago

I am soooooo incredibly happy for their success in fundraising! Mary and crew have done so much to add to the ambience of our community. This is great news!!!

ResQd 6 years, 10 months ago

Fantastic Job! We should have done this for the library and the rec center. Let the people who want it, pay for it.

Rae Hudspeth 6 years, 10 months ago

Has anyone heard what will happen with the old building?

I know it's outdated, but it's such a charming venue.

Call me sentimental, I have fond memories of both performing and attending wonderful shows there.

FlintlockRifle 6 years, 10 months ago

"How I Became A Pirate" is truely a fun play to attend, all ages will enjoy ,go ends Sunday,

verity 6 years, 10 months ago

I'm sure a new theater will be easier to use and more people can attend, but the old theater has that ambiance that just can't be replicated. Oh, well, life moves on and good on the people who have worked hard for this.

4art 6 years, 10 months ago

Some of the best evidence that private support of the arts is alive and well in Kansas. Thank you Lawrence. You're setting a great example.

LadyJ 6 years, 10 months ago

Why couldn't money for the library be raised this way?

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