The Liberty Theatre is on its way toward reaching a capital campaign goal of $3.3 million, thanks largely to the $1 million the state Legislature dedicated this summer.
The theater has now raised about $1.3 million, bringing the campaign to 40% of its overall goal, according to a report presented at the theater Tuesday evening.
“We’re far from finished,” Michael Wilson, a senior associate from the consulting firm Westby Associates, said, “but we’ve had a lot of good news.”
The funding will go toward renovating both the exterior and interior of the theater. Adding dressing rooms, replacing the curtain and optimizing the concession and box office areas are just a handful of the improvements the theater’s board has planned.
“The whole intent of the program that we’re doing now,” Ted Osborn, the board’s vice president, said, “is to convert it into a theater that can do dance, music, theatrical performances, with the best.”
Currently, the facilities limit the type of performances the Liberty is able to host, Wilson said. The board is hopeful that enhancing and expanding those facilities will make it possible for larger and more intricate shows.
Jennifer Crockett, the theater’s executive director, has already discussed the renovation plans with technical directors from Portland Opera, Oregon Ballet Theatre and BodyVox, who are excited the Liberty will be able to support their full-sized crews after the renovation.
She also connected with Broadway booking agents from shows like “Rent,” “Hairspray” and “Fiddler on the Roof,” who expressed interest in performing at the Liberty.
“Those are shows that are touring in 2020 that, if everything goes well and we’re renovated, we could have,” Crockett said.
Offering the stage to larger performances will not only stimulate the local economy, but will also enable the theater to support more community groups.
“Just because we will be doing bigger shows doesn’t mean that we want to lose the community shows,” Crockett said. “In fact, it makes us more flexible with what we can offer community organizations.”
Before the Liberty can book Broadway shows, however, more funding must be secured. The campaign is now looking to raise money at the upcoming Liberty Gala event in November. After that, they’ll focus on updating the Murdock Trust grant proposal for another $350,000 early next year.
“It’s exciting,” Mayor Bruce Jones said after hearing the report. “There’s such a huge potential … it will be a real jewel in the crown of Astoria.”