Moscow’s living room needs a new couch.That’s how Donna Woolston, president of the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre’s board of directors, explains the need to upgrade seating at the historic downtown theater.
This is a living room that seated 27,000 people last year. The theater’s blue chairs date back to the 1980s. Many are broken down and uncomfortable to sit in for long periods, Christine Gilmore, the theater’s executive director told a focus group gathered Monday at the theater. Through focus groups, the nonprofit organization is collecting ideas for an upgrade, with plans to launch a fundraising campaign this fall.
“This is it for (historical) movie houses in Moscow, Pullman, Lewiston and Clarkston. This is not just about preserving it, but enhancing it because it’s the only one here,” said Cody Moore, the board’s secretary.
Pullman and Lewiston also have downtown theaters, but they are closed. In Lewiston the Liberty Theater Preservation Alliance is working to restore and open the Liberty Theater. The Pullman Civic Theatre spearheaded the Audian Project last year in hopes of generating support to reopen the Audian as a performing arts center in Pullman.
The Kenworthy was gifted to the Moscow community in 2000 by the Kenworthy family. The nonprofit Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre formed to manage it. The group hopes to have the chairs installed by 2020, in time for its 20th anniversary.
The theater has 270 seats to replace. Members are collecting opinions on everything from the degree of historical design, to color (seafoam green was popular Monday), to stain-resistance, to amenities like cup holders. Depending on the details, the cost will roughly be $350 to $500 a seat, Moore said. In addition are costs for removal, installation and, possibly, refinishing the floor since it would be an opportune time to do so.
The plan doesn’t include the theater’s balcony, which is not used for seating because it is not up to fire code, said Gilmore. The group does plan to keep donor name plates installed on most of the existing chairs.
People interested in participating in a focus group or getting involved in the campaign can contact Gilmore at: firstname.lastname@example.org