The Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre is moving forward on a planned $195,000 remodel of the downtown Moscow theater.The nonprofit group that operates the venue launched a fundraising campaign last weekend to raise money for the project, which stretches from floor to ceiling. Construction is set to begin in early November.
The remodel will start with chair removal and grinding down the cracks and pits in the 4,900-square-foot, century-old floor. New chairs will be installed, along with floor lighting, carpeted aisles, a new projection screen and LED lights.
The upgrade is designed to complement the theater’s historical architecture and aesthetic, including the decorative neon flower lights on the purple ceiling and its maroon walls, said Christine Gilmore, the Kenworthy’s executive director.
“Obviously the Kenworthy holds a lot of emotional real estate for people,” Gilmore said. “We’re trying to do our best to stay true to its look and feel.”
The group is working with an interior designer to match modern designs with the art deco look theater owner Milburn Kenworthy went with in a 1950s remodel, Gilmore said. Parts of the building date back to 1908. The venue opened as the Kenworthy in 1926.
The current plastic and blue cloth-padded chairs are more than 30 years old and are so broken down that patrons often bring pillows from home for lumbar support, she said. In the coming months the group will determine the design for 280 new chairs, including the fabric material and whether the base will be metal, cast iron, plastic or wood.
After the floors are refinished, aisle lighting will be added so people who enter the theater late will have more visibility.
“It will help our demographic, which tends to be older,” Gilmore said.
When the new chairs are installed the group plans to double the amount of space for wheelchair seating from two to four spaces. Three end chairs in the auditorium will also include transfer arms to make the space more friendly for people with mobility issues, she said.
Recarpeting the aisles will help make them slip-resistant. LED lights will make the building more energy efficient. The glass beaded projection screen is more than 20 years old and is damaged. A new screen will provide a clearer picture.
“The expectation is that this will last into the next two decades,” Gilmore said of the remodel.
The group has applied for more than six grants requesting funds for the project, but local donations and pledges will be key.
“It takes somebody who can donate $50,000, to someone who can donate $5. Every donation helps,” Gilmore said.
Anyone who previously purchased a nameplate for a chair will have their nameplate placed on a new chair.
“We are asking that anyone who is an original chair donor to reinvest in the new chairs at a level that is meaningful to them,” Gilmore said.
The group is also accepting gifts of stocks and disbursements from 401(k) accounts.
Pledge forms are available online at kenworthy.org. As of Tuesday, Feb. 26 $47,270 had been donated to the project.