The Pullman Civic Theatre’s Nye Street Theatre is a small stage with room for 75 patrons. When it comes to putting on grand productions, space is an unavoidable problem.A few blocks away, the former movie house the Audian Theater sits empty on Main Street. With dreams of one day staging shows in the historic building, the theater group has launched a fundraising campaign to create the Audian Performing Arts Centre for the community.
“We’ve looked at the Audian before. We decided to start having some serious conversations,” said Kristin Lincoln, head of the marketing committee for the theater and head of the Audian project. “For this to be financially successful it needs to be its own performing arts center that caters to all the performing arts in the area.”
The proposed center would be modeled after the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre in Moscow in terms of the variety of events it could be used for, Lincoln said. It would be a home for the theater but also a performance space for area groups like the symphony, choirs, other theater groups and dance troupes. It could be used for traveling festivals and they’d like to restore the ability to show movies there.
The location was first home to a silent movie house in 1915 called the Grand Theater. It closed in 1928 and was remodeled as the Audian Theater in 1930, according to a walking brochure published by the Pullman Chamber of Commerce. The movie house’s screen and more than 600 seats were removed after it closed its doors in the early 2000s.
The theater group is in the process of creating a not-for-profit organization to oversee the proposed center. The next step would be leasing the building from its current owners and then beginning a remodel, Lincoln said. After that they would focus on finding the funds to maintain the facility. Purchasing the building from its current owners could eventually be considered, Lincoln said.
The group has established a crowdfunding campaign and is also looking into private donations, sponsors and grants to get started.
“The architecture is still there and some of the beautiful elements of the facility are still there.
The other half of this mission is to restore the old historical building and, on top of that, bring a facility downtown that will help generate business in Pullman.”
The Pullman Civic Theatre will have seats on the Audian center’s board and remain a very active partner, Lincoln said.
The cost of remodeling the building has yet to be determined, Lincoln said. The group hopes to earn $50,000 for start-up costs.
“We’re looking to have a full feasibility study done to make sure we’re not missing anything, to make sure it’s a financially stable project,” she said.
“This is really just the first step. We need seed money. We’re in the planning stages and we need something to negotiate the lease. … We need to see how much interest there is in the community,” she said.
“We want this to really be a community project. We want this to be something the community has ownership in.”
Details on the project and the link to the crowdfunding campaign can be found at: http://pullmancivictheatre.org/the-audian-project/