Avalon wins grants, but needs public’s help before June 1

Shawn Stinnett of Montrose threads pipe that will be used for the new fire sprinkler system that is being installed in the Avalon Theater as part of the old building’s renovations. Stinnett is a foreman with Dynamic Fire Protection.

During the past two months, The Avalon Cornerstone Project climbed $220,000 closer to its goal of collecting $7.6 million by Jan. 1, nearly enough to repay the City of Grand Junction what it allocated for phase one of the theater’s $8.2 million renovation.

The project received $120,000 from donors in July and August, many in individual $1,000 amounts, said Robin Brown, Development Director of The Avalon Cornerstone Project.

The project also took in two cash grants this week worth a total of $100,000, one in the amount of $50,000 from El Pomar Foundation and another in the amount of $50,000 from Boettcher Foundation.

“We are halfway there in paying the city the (final) $400,000 we needed to fulfill the construction contract,” Brown said. “We plan to have that paid back by the end of the year.”

The project still needs an additional $600,000 to finish out the first phase, she said.

“We are doing everything we can to raise that (amount) while it is still under construction so that our Grand Opening on June 1 features a fully functioning Avalon Theatre,” Brown said.

The project is about where it expected to be in terms of fundraising by this time of year, and is pleased so many individuals, particularly physicians, have been willing to give to complete the project.

“Nobody is rolling in the dough right now, so it’s a tough time for everybody. However, people see the importance of this project and the importance it has for the community. I don’t think people think of the Avalon as a superfluous project. They see its importance. They’re doing what they can. People who don’t have the capability to give large gifts are giving what they can,” Brown said.

The group that reaches out most often are the physicians of the community, she said.

“Doctors, specifically, are interested in the health and the overall well-being of people and I think a lot of them equate arts and culture to overall well-being,” Brown said.

Face-to-face meetings make up the project’s primary fundraising strategy, though donors can take part in several giving programs, including recognition for donations of $2,500 for a seat. Those who buy a seat will be listed on a special plaque on the Donor Recognition wall in the new and improved Avalon lobby.

“We are currently focusing on the energy industry,” Brown said. “Our goal right now is the energy industry and then also just local businesses and end-of-year giving, businesses that are looking for tax credits at the end of the year.”

For the biggest donors, the project offers a number of naming opportunities throughout the theater, from the rooftop terrace to the grand stairwell, Brown said.

The goal of the project is to expand the facility, making it capable of accommodating a wider range of uses that will help improve commercial, cultural and community benefits to the Grand Valley.

“The Avalon fills a niche that is filled by nothing else in the entire Grand Valley,” Brown said. “We have one theater. We have the Avalon.”

Although the performing arts center at Colorado Mesa University fulfills the needs of students and the Mesa Theater downtown fills a small niche market, “we have nothing that would bring in the types of symphonic performance the Avalon will,” she said.


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