By Nathan Ham
It has been an exciting week for the Appalachian Theatre. In addition to construction starting on expanding the stage at the Appalachian Theatre, the theatre was also notified that they won $10,000 in the 25 Years of Giving Video Contest held by the First Horizon Foundation, which operates First Tennessee Bank and Capital Bank, which has a location at 325 Leola Street in Boone.
The video contest commemorated 25 years of strengthening local communities. According to the press release, a total of $275,000 was awarded to 35 different organizations in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Florida and Texas.
“For the past 25 years, our Foundation has worked to strengthen and uplift our communities by partnering with nonprofits,” said Charles Burkett, Chairman of the First Horizon Foundation, “We’re blown away by all the impactful stories we received in our 25 Years of Giving Video Contest. We had planned for 25 awards, however the stories were so compelling we decided to recognize 10 additional organizations with $2,500 Honorable Mention awards.”
The Appalachian Theatre was one of nine organizations to win a $10,000 prize. The four biggest prizes of $25,000 were awarded to Central Piedmont Community College (Charlotte), Friends of the Smokies (Kodak, Tenn.), HopeWorks (Memphis, Tenn.) and New Ballet Ensemble & School (Memphis, Tenn.). 12 organizations won $5,000 prizes and 10 others won $2,500 honorable mention prizes.
“We’re going to invest the money right into this renovation project. Every dollar we are gaining we’re putting into figuring out how to make the theatre flexible and feasible for the future,” said Laura Kratt, Appalachian Theatre’s Executive Director.
Over 500 submissions were sent in for the competition and each video was judged on the following criteria: Storytelling and messaging, creativity and originality, motivation and inspiration and overall community impact.
Appalachian Theatre was one of six organizations from North Carolina to win a prize.
“Of all of the videos submitted in North Carolina, ours was the highest voted in the state. I think that’s a reflection on how much support we have in the community for arts and for Appalachia,” said Kratt. “This is something we can all feel really proud about bringing this grant back to our community.”
Construction also started on expanding the stage at the theatre. The marquee for the theatre was finished in last year, marking the completion of phase one of the project. Phase two started with the demolition of the old stage that started in mid-July.
“Construction crews are starting to build back now which is exciting to see,” Kratt said.
The new stage will be double the size of the previous stage from 17 feet to between 34 and 36 feet, which will allow for the installation of an orchestra pit.
The hope is to have the theatre open in 2019.
“Construction can be a fluid and dynamic process, but it is our plan to have the theater open in late summer or early fall of 2019,” Kratt said.
Kratt said that this is the most substantial renovation that this building has had since the 1950s and while completing the stage is the biggest piece left to do, there could be other needs down the road.
“With any theater there is always more to be done and with any historic building, there are needs that arise,” said Kratt.