OUR VIEW: Give Culpeper a priceless Christmas gift
The State Theatre has made substantial progress in its bid to raise $400,000 in just over a month or face closing its doors for 2016.
The $120,000 given to the theater thus far shows a community commitment to preserving the iconic Main Street arts venue. And Amy Bowling’s donation of time to serve as development director should be applauded.
But $280,000 more in just 18 days is a tall order.
Generally, an 11th-hour bail-out isn’t the best way to keep an operation afloat over the long term — particularly if drastic changes aren’t made — but we believe the facility’s leaders have been forthright when taking responsibility for past mistakes and open to righting the theater’s course under intense public scrutiny.
Some residents have noted that the taxpayer shouldn’t be burdened to rescue the theatre; however, the presence of the theatre generates additional revenue through meals and sales taxes generated by its downtown neighbors.
Even while the theater is itself in dire need, the Art Deco façade and neon lights likely lighten the load for town residents.
But in asking for the community’s help, the State Theatre’s leaders have indicated they’re not seeking a government handout. They’re working to follow a model that can be sustained through sales, donations, patronage and grants.
That’s the way it should be done.
Of course, finances don’t tell the whole story.
You simply can’t line your pockets with the sorts of treasures the State Theatre has provided since its grand re-opening three years ago. The memories created there will last a lifetime for those fortunate enough to have passed through its doors.
In addition to an incredibly diverse — and often innovative — range of entertainment options for adults, the theatre has provided a rarely paralleled entertainment venue for the youngest people in our community. It’s often been said that the region lacks activities for children and teens. This facility has opened its doors to children in the public schools, homeschooled children and children with special needs, offering well-planned and executed outings for all. We cannot afford to cut off experiences that help our children learn and develop through the arts.
In addition to the world-class acts the theater has showcased (recently Rhonda Vincent, Elisabeth vonTrapp and Jerry Lewis come to mind), local musicians, singers, dancers, artists and actors have found a home in a truly fantastic facility.
With its quaint charms, ranging from its Civil War battlefields to its unique shops and restaurants, plus the presence of a lively Main Street marquee, Culpeper sits poised to become a real regional culture hub and solidify its place on the map as a tourist destination.
To save the State, its leaders aren’t asking for much.
Just $8 per person — the cost of a single fast food combo meal — would give the theater a fighting chance to discover the right sustainable model to continue providing such fantastic opportunities in the arts to everyone in our region.
Visit the theater’s website, www.culpepertheatre.org, and click “donate” to give Culpeper a much-needed Christmas present – its own glowing State Theatre to keep generating priceless memories for artists and audiences alike for many years to come.