Nearly three million dollars of public donations, along with tax credits, have brought the Wayne Theatre Alliance to the culminating phase of the theater’s renovation.
“The loan has been approved for the final stage,” said Dr. Clair Myers, Executive Director of the Alliance, which was formed as a nonprofit in 2000 with the goal of resurrecting live entertainment in downtown Waynesboro.
“It appears that the [loan] closing should take place in December and final construction will start in March,” Myers said.
“We’ve already done most of the infra-structure,” he explained. “Final construction on the theatre will include cutting the building in half in order to add wings to the fly tower and excavation under the stage.”
The projected timeline for the project is 12 to 15 months. Myers said the new theatre should be complete by June of 2014.
In the meantime, the Alliance will continue to operate regular productions every weekend at The Gateway. “Going to the Gateway” has become a popular phrase in Waynesboro and the surrounding area as patrons attend regular programs like River City Radio Hour (3rd Fridays each month), Mojo Blues Saturday night (3rd Saturday), Richard Adams Variety Show (2nd Friday) and special performances including jazz, magic, the Boogie Kings, River City Boys, Open Mic Night, theatrical plays and other productions.
“This will be one of the largest non-profit construction projects ever done in Waynesboro, maybe the largest,” Myers said. Including the work already done, the project’s total cost “will be in excess of $8 million and could be as much as $10 million,” said Myers. “The goal of the Capital Campaign Committee in the final phase is to be able to open the doors debt-free and with an endowment to ensure continuous operation.”
The 1926 vaudeville/silent movie theatre was closed after a 1980 fire that began in the concession area and travelled upward into the balcony. The theatre was remodeled at that time and reopened, but some 20 years later its owners gave it to the city. The mission of the Wayne Theatre Alliance is to promote the economic vitality, educational opportunities and cultural life of Waynesboro and the adjacent region through the preservation and operation of the Wayne Theatre as a performing arts/conference center.
Upcoming events at The Gateway include The Red Eye Theatre Festival on Saturday, November 3, when The Wayne Theatre Alliance and the Hamner Theatre will join forces to present the East Coast segment of this Hollins University production. For more information, visit waynetheatre.org.