Theatre Lawrence, formerly known as Lawrence Community Theatre, has met its challenge grant goals for construction of a new theatre/education facility. The Theatre's goal was to secure $6,220,000 by Sept. 30, 2011. As of Sept. 29, the Theatre has received 568 gifts and pledges totaling $6,486,000.
The new theatre will be built in the Bauer Farm development at 6th St. and Wakarusa Dr. on land donated by Free State Group, LLC. It will feature a 300-seat theatre, an education wing with three dedicated classrooms, support and storage space, lighted parking, and improved comfort and accessibility. It will replace the converted church building at 15th and New Hampshire Streets that has been home to Theatre Lawrence since 1985.
"The outpouring of community support for this project, especially in these final weeks, has been inspiring," said campaign co-chair Janis Bunker. "With so many stakeholders, this truly is Our Community's Theatre. It is a milestone event for the entire community," Bunker said.
"We would like to acknowledge the leadership of our initial campaign director, the late George Woodyard, our honorary campaign co-chairs, the Hon. Fred and Lilian Six, our co-chairs Janis Bunker and Doni Mooberry Slough, and our hard-working campaign committee and board members," said Mary Doveton, executive director of Theatre Lawrence. "Without their personal commitment and effort this amazing goal would not have been reached. Each and every donor is a vital part of what we have accomplished. Together they are making a strong statement for the arts in the City of Lawrence," Doveton said.
The campaign received a $1 million challenge grant from the estate of Mabel A. Woodyard of Phoenix, Ariz., and a $497,000 challenge grant from the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation of Tulsa, Okla. Following these landmark gifts, along with a $1 million gift from Tensie Oldfather, the gift of land valued at $725,000 and other private and foundation commitments, the public fundraising portion of the campaign was launched in Sept., 2010.
Construction work on the new facility could begin as early as mid-winter, with completion possible in 12 - 15 months, Doveton said. The $6.22 million goal will provide funds for the building, including the land, but fundraising will continue, to equip the new facility, Doveton said.