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Appalachian Theatre Committee Meets next Thursday, April 5; Post includes Minutes from Past Two Meetings

The next meeting for those interested in saving the Appalachian Theatre is Thursday, April 5, 2012, at the Watauga County Library. The meeting will begin at 11:00 a.m. View this post for minutes from the past two meetings on February 22 and March 21. 

Here are minutes from the previous two meetings:

March 21, 2012  • Watauga County Library

This is the first gathering of everyone since about a month ago. Since then, several board nomination forms have been returned and the survey for potential users has been distributed and some returned. The DBDA has also contracted with the Whitney Jones team out ofWinston-Salemto help with the feasibility study and fundraising activities.  Without further ado, Whitney Jones (WJ) was introduced to the group.

Mr. Jones began by introducing other members of his team in attendance at the meeting – Linda Sullivan and Terri Dillion. They are looking forward to working with the group with this extraordinary project that has a goal of saving a building that means a lot to the community, has the ability to make a real economic impact, and will be a performance showcase for film, theatre, music, etc.  What is still to be determined is the cost and where the funds will come from.

The plans are for Whitney Jones to interview 25-30 people who are business leaders, government officials, and individuals in the community who can support the project with larger gifts.  Those interviews will happen within 30 days. To facilitate these visits, WJ needs to bring a packet of material that will describe the project, the goal of the campaign, and where the funding will come from. What will be garnered from this is their response to the campaign overall, their interest in playing a role in the campaign, and what gift they are prepared to make.

Since this is a start up, it is a new wrinkle and goodwill must be attached to it. In speaking to these individuals and others, they may find this project to be attractive because of where the building is located or because of the economic impact or because they may  have the opportunity to attach their name to a part of it. The Fundraising Committee will work with the Campaign Committee on the interviews and identifying potential donors, and these will remain confidential. Gift ranges will be used, not  those who will be making the gifts.

WJ hopes that by April 11, the information for the educational packet will be compiled. The $6.2 million number should not be perceived as sticker shock. That includes several different components and should be broken down to reflect that. Just over $600,000 is to pay the Town back for purchasing the building, $4.2 million is renovation and restoration, and $1.2 million is a three year operating budget to allow for learning and growth.

One other assumption that is being made is that Doc Watson will be lending his name to the project in some way. This will be mentioned in the initial interview.

Mr. Jones was thanked for sharing perspective on the project and their procedure for moving forward.

Forty-eight of the user group surveys have been sent out. Twelve of them have been returned and another 12 indicate that they would not use the theatre at this time. It was suggested that an an electronic format be investigated and shared with the ones that have  not returned their surveys. An emphasis should be made that even though a group or entity may only need the facility once or twice a year, it may provide insight into needs that should be considered to serve their group and others.

Sixteen board nomination forms have been returned. Those who have expressed interest but haven’t yet completed their forms need to be encouraged to do so.

Karen Sabo has compiled the notes from the SWOT analysis – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats – from February 29. This information will be put into a narrative to be used by Whitney Jones as a part of the information packet. Cheryl Prisco, Karen Sabo, and Teresa Lee will assist with the preparation of the narrative.

From the building perspective, Andy Stallings indicated that the inability to list the building on the National Register of Historic Places may impact the budget.

The DBDA is supportive of the actions being taken by this group; and the Town ofBooneis happy with its progress as well.

A question was raised on how the Daniel Boone Park project may affect this project. Lynne Mason, town council member, said that it is at a much earlier phase than this project and has much more to do to get to the actual fundraising phase.

Pilar Fotta suggests breaking the numbers out when discussing the project with anyone that is interested to avoid misunderstandings. The $4.2 million is to get the building ready after repaying the loan to the Town. The $1.2 million on top of that is to prepare for success.

Fotta reported that the DBDA is going to join the League of American Theatres, which this group has indicated is important to its success.

The committees then broke out for some continued project work.

Notes Submitted by Sheri Moretz

February 22, 2012 • Watauga County Library

The usual format of the meeting was changed a bit with reports on happenings at the 9 a.m. hour, then individual meetings, then a group meeting again.

A check was presented to Town Council along with the first quarterly report last evening. The check was just over $11,000. The plans on moving forward were shared, which included hiring a group to do a feasibility study, having a website that will share information with the group as well as the public, and to do a survey of all or as many potential users as possible to get a real feel for how the space may be utilized and what needs are out there. The application for potential board members to complete was also presented.

The members of the Nominating Committee were announced and include Hanes Boren, Trimella Chaney, Dan Meyer, Wright Tilley, and Emily Stallings. Anyone wishing to serve on the initial Board of Trustees may nominate themselves or others with their permission. Town Council member Lynne Mason expressed sincere appreciation. A group tried to get the theatre a couple of years ago and failed. There was a lot of disappointment in the community. She is proud of the Town taking this leap of faith.

Keith Martin reported that the OOPS committee has sent out a survey to 48 potential users of the facility. The survey has a deadline of March 15. A reminder will go out on March 1 if the survey has not been returned. On March 7, phone calls will be made to help with returns.

Bettie Bond reported that the fundraising committee interviewed representatives from three organizations that do capital campaigns. Among those three, Whitney Jones fromWinston-Salemrose to the top. They have been in business for 30 years and have worked with some amazing theatre projects including ones inWinston-Salem,Greensboro, andCharlotte. This entity will perform a 90-day philanthropy survey to see where the funding may come from and what action may be taken to garner funds to support the Appalachian Theatre project. Then, it recommends a six month campaign to raise the needed funds.

Greg Williams made a motion to accept the recommendation of the fundraising committee to contract with Whitney Jones (WJ) for the feasibility study and capital campaign. Ed Pilkington seconded the motion. A couple or questions were raised. How will they be paid – with a percentage of funds raised or through a fee? (WJ) will be paid through a fee of $25,000, which is inclusive. After the 90 day survey, the fundraising fee is $10,000 per month to make the calls, applications for grants, etc. These fees will be included in the campaign goals. WJ does have experience in applying for grants and will be doing that work for the group. After discussion, the motion passed.

Max Smith, from Red Gremlin Design, has worked on a potential graphic representation of the group/theatre. He said that he asked himself what could be the brand for this effort? He chose a retro look from the 40s and 50s. If possible, this file will be sent out or somehow shared with the minutes. (Here’s a link to the graphic file, so you can have a look.)

The meeting broke up into individual committees for updates.

Report from the Organization Committee – Keith Martin

At the committee meeting this morning, the list of priorities was reviewed. The next goal is go establish the position statement. This statement should be both concrete and abstract and identify the statement of need for the facility, the role and value of the arts, the mission and scope of the organization….and how we will measure success. This statement is important from a fundraising point of view because it helps establish the need, support, and reason for people to give funds to the project. Karen Sabo, who is with the Invisible Theatre, will be fielding e-mail thoughts on this project. You will be receiving an e-mail later today or tomorrow with her e-mail address.

Some things to keep in mind is the context in which the theatre is going to exist. It should have an authentic connection to stories and music, represent the cultural traditions of the region, and expose people, both locals and visitors, to those traditions. We also must be mindful and realistic to what the space can deliver and what we can support.

Design and Construction Committee – Andy Stallings

Andy reports that Frank Mohler was able to sketch out the original layout of the theatre. The drawing was circulated. The most immediate recommendations from this committee are to get some information out to the public and to do something about the appearance at sidewalk level. Hanes Boren suggested painting the boards that are currently covering the front with black paint and applying the logo that Max has created. Pilar reported that the Town is currently taking steps to patch the roof so no further damage will occur.

Other Business

Craig Fisher announced that the Oscar project his class was planning is cancelled. He hopes to be able to do something before the end of the semester that will involve these students in a fundraising project.

A brainstorming meeting is scheduled for February 29th at 9 a.m. It will be held at Town Council Chambers onBlowing Rock Road. The purpose is to begin working on the position statement.

The next regularly-scheduled meeting is set for Wednesday, March 21 at 10 a.m. with the committees gathering at 9 a.m. In the meantime, individual committees need to continue to meet to work on their goals, etc.

The meeting was adjourned at 10:15 a.m.

Notes Submitted by Sheri Moretz