Casual Arts
Frequently Asked Questions
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F A Q's






If we open a theater will it fix our downtown? 

    Unfortunately, it takes much more than opening a theater (or other anchor project) to bring life back to a sagging downtown.  A theater can be an excellent magnet to bring people to the downtown, but the downtown must have addressed the problems that caused the decline in order to have a successful revitalization.  We have seen many cases where a magnificent "anchor building" was created to draw people downtown, only to see the project fail a year later because the downtown hadn't fixed its underlying problems. 
    The key to any revitalization is to develop an overall plan for the revitalization of the downtown.  In creating the plan, it is important to study the downtown area to understand what caused the decline and survey area residents to determine why they aren't visiting the downtown and learn what would bring them back to downtown.  Once there is an understanding of the challenges that face the downtown, a plan can be created that addresses each challenge. 
    Creating the plan is usually easier than implementing it as often there are many organizations involved, ranging from business owners to local government to various state agencies such as the highway department and economic development office.  Getting all of these organizations together to agree on a plan is often difficult, especially when the plan calls for these organizations to spend money on improvements.  Funding, of course, is the biggest challenge as infrastructure projects such as roadway changes, sidewalk repair and parking arrangements can run into the millions of dollars. 
    If the plan has properly addressed the downtown's challenges, a suitable anchor project has been chosen, and all of the organizations follow through on their commitments, a downtown should see a successful revitalization.

We have a Performing Arts Center which is used to host traveling shows ranging from concerts to plays, why do we need another theater? 

     A Performing Arts Center with traveling shows is a great starting place, however a permanent, local theater offers many benefits that a Performing Arts Center doesn't.  Consider the following -
      PAC's usually don't have performances every day of the week and often are only in use 50% of the time or less.  In order for businesses around a PAC to thrive, they need a reliable daily flow of customers.  We support projects that are expected to operate at least 6 days a week bringing a steady flow of visitors to the area.
     A traveling show doesn't substantially contribute to the local economy or tax base.  While the performers will stay in local hotels and eat meals, the scenery, costumes, and props are built somewhere else.  The performers are paid in the tour's home city and they pay income tax in their home state.  Productions that are created locally, with locally obtained materials directly benefit the local economy.  Local staff and performers will be paying local taxes on their income. 
     A traveling show doesn't make an investment in the community it visits.  Traveling shows rarely visit schools or give educational presentations.  As a resident of the community, part of a local theater's mission is to stimulate the arts, providing education and experiences for all.  Projects we support have an Education and Outreach department whose sole purpose is to bring the Performing Arts into the community by visiting schools, presenting workshops, and providing internship and learning opportunities.

We want to fix our downtown, will you help us? 

       We receive countless requests for assistance each year and each one is evaluated on a case by case basis to determine where the community is in the process, if there are buildings suitable for use as a theater, and if there is strong support in the community for a revitalization effort.  We prefer to work with communities that are within 500 miles of either Washington, DC or New York City (our "hubs"), although we have consulted on projects as far west as Texas.  Our services are provided by volunteers and are funded by the generous donations of our supporters and unfortunately, we don't have the resources to provide assistance to every community that requests it.  At this time we have a "full plate" and are not adding new projects.

How much does it cost to convert a building into theater?

    It is impossible to estimate a cost as there are a tremendous number of variables.  One of the primary variables is the cost of obtaining a suitable space and converting it for theatrical use.  The costs will also depend on the final plan and nature of the theater.  We have seen projects range from elaborate rehabilitations with multi-million dollar budgets, to conversions of former restaurants costing under $50,000.