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Fundraising for renovation of the Appalachian Theatre on King Street is at 40 percent of the goal, the theater group says. Photo by Anna Oakes



Originally published: 2013-08-31 16:42:14
Last modified: 2013-08-31 16:42:58

App Theatre at 40 percent of fundraising goal

by Anna Oakes

A year after forming, Appalachian Theatre of the High Country has reached the 40 percent mark of its fundraising campaign to purchase and restore the historic theater on King Street in downtown Boone, chairman John Cooper said.

"The last three weeks have been amazing," Cooper said Friday. "We're doing well in the private sector."

The new nonprofit assumed control of the theater building earlier this summer after paying off a $624,000 loan from the town of Boone, which purchased the facility in a foreclosure sale in late 2011, agreeing to loan the purchase money to the Downtown Boone Development Association.

The DBDA then helped form the new nonprofit, ATHC, to manage the theater. ATHC commenced a silent phase of a capital campaign in summer 2012, and Cooper said the group is not quite ready to disclose its fundraising goal.

"You really want to be a significant amount above 50 percent (before you announce the goal)," he said. "We're getting close."

Cooper, who also heads the ATHC campaign cabinet, said the theater is focusing on several prospects who could become lead donors.

"We have not received what you would call a lead gift, but we may get a whole lot of ones that are close to that," he said. "Nobody's come to the forefront with a million-plus."

The ATHC board recently approved an architect for the renovation project, Cooper said, but is not releasing the firm name until contracts are signed.

Twelve architects applied for the project, he said.

"It's a good architect - one that is very well respected in the area of theater and historic theaters," he added.

The theater has a solid frame and, hopefully, will not face many engineering issues, said Cooper: "Structurally it's a very sound building, and that's a good thing."

Although the 600- to 700-seat auditorium will be the theater's focal point, Cooper said he believes a second-floor space above the lobby will be the most used, with potential utility for community meetings, receptions and black box theater shows.

Between the theater and the Boone Town Hall is the old Appalachian Soda Shop, which the ATHC is currently using as an office space.

ATHC plans two events this fall. First, the theater group will host an open house and tours at the theater on Friday, Oct. 4, in conjunction with First Friday activities. A second event is planned at Hound Ears Club on Nov. 14 -- the 75th anniversary of the Appalachian Theatre.

The capital campaign could potentially go public at this event, Cooper said.

"A lot of people are working hard," he said.

For more information about the ATHC project, visit http://www.savetheapptheatre.com.