Board Envisions Second Screen To Increase Offerings
By Deb Hadachek – Telescope News
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It will be an evening of treats and no tricks–for party-goers and the community alike–when the Blair Center for the Arts stages the Blair Monster Bash Saturday, November 2 starting at 6 p.m. in the Commercial Building on the NCK Free Fairgrounds.
Donations raised at the annual event help the Blair Theater meet its annual operating budget of $130,000. This year, $3,900 of the funds raised will be used to create architect renderings of a second theater in the building owned by the Blair just east of the current theater.
Tickets will be available until October 30, $50 per couple, $30 for individuals, or $300 for tables of eight, and include dinner and music by DJ Brenda Flinn. Tables includes extra amenities.
The board also plans to announce a new Blair Rewards Program during the evening.
People who attend are encouraged to come in costume. The evening will include a live and silent auction, and music until 12:30 a.m.
“The Blair board is excited to show the vision of a second movie screen to patrons, as it’s something we’ve talked about for a long time,” says board member Amy Walker McGuire, Belleville. “I think people need a visual to get excited about what is possible in that space.”
McGuire said that the second screen would allow a wider variety of movies to be shown at the Blair, and open up possibilities for events like live performances in the main theater while a movie is shown in the second theater.
McGuire, a Belleville High School graduate, holds degrees in musical theater, technical production and directing, and minors in music and dance. She worked on technical crews for live performances and at corporate events on the East Coast before she and her husband, Greg, who also works in the theater and entertainment industry, returned to Belleville to raise their children. “I get excited about this because I have seen what’s possible with theaters in small communities no different than Belleville,” she says.
“Nationally, economic studies show that for every $1 spent on the arts, another $3 is generated in the economy,” she says.
“People think of entertainment as a frivolity, but it is so essential,” she says. “Think of every church service you attend–it contains some sort of artistic component. Arts are essential to the quality of life. People have forgotten how good arts are for your soul.” Board Envisions Second Screen To Increase Offerings gap measure, it will be just temporary.”
“Nationally, economic studies show that for every $1 spent on the arts, another $3 is generated in the economy. ” — Amy Walker McGuire, Belleville
McGuire said this week The Blair hosted 800 school children for four performances over two days of the Wichita Children’s Theater. Not only was the performance enthusiastically received by the children, the performers spent money at local motels, restaurants, gas stations and other businesses.
McGuire said the theater requires about $225 a day to cover expenses for staff and utilities. The theater pays eight concession workers and a janitor; the rest of the labor is volunteer.
The theater receives $5,000 a year from the City of Belleville and $4,000 from Republic County, but as an organization that charges for its services, must also pay property tax and sales tax.
Last year the Blair sold 9,000 tickets, but McGuire points out that on average, only about eight percent of the county’s population ever walks through the doors.
“We took in about $30,000 in ticket sales last year, but paid the studios $16,500 for the movies we played,” she says. “We try to keep our prices low so more people in the community have access to events. Concessions about break even.”
The theater receives ad sponsorships from local businesses and individuals, and individuals could help by naming The Blair Theater as a donor on Amazon Smile purchases or Facebook donations.
“Every little bit helps,” she says.
Board members volunteered more than 400 hours to help during movies and other special events and prepare for the Blair Bash.
McGuire said it’s events like the Blair Bash, donations, and grants to pay for the big items that helps the theater stay viable. The theater recently received a grant toward the 11-year-old server that is a vital part of the projection equipment from the Republic County Community Foundation. Total cost to replace both the server and projector will be $90,000, she said.
The Blair also recently received grant funding from the Dane Hansen Foundation to pay for closed-captioning equipment that will allow people who are hearing impaired better enjoy the movies.
“I feel like there’s a lot of exciting things coming,” she says. “We just need to take time to implement them properly so our organization can serve the community better.”