Avalon Theatre still needs assistance from local citizens

By John E. Halvorson and Bennett Boeschenstein

The recent award of $1 million from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs affirmed what many people in this community understood — that the Avalon Theatre will play an equally vital role in economic development as it will in the cultural enrichment in our community for generations to come.

We are incredibly appreciative of the state’s support and its recognition of the economic development impact of this project. The Department of Local Affairs now joins the many foundations, civic clubs, businesses and private donors — numbering more than 300 — that have also invested in the renovation and expansion of the Avalon Theatre.

It is very exciting to watch the progress at Seventh and Main streets as our 90-year-old theater is transformed into a world-class performing-arts facility that will be the cornerstone of commerce and culture in our community.

This project was once thought impossible, but it is now real because of the collaboration among the city of Grand Junction, the Downtown Development Authority and the Avalon Theatre Foundation. We look forward to celebrating the Avalon’s grand reopening this summer.

Despite recent news reports and community conversations that may leave people with the impression that the capital campaign is over, that is not the case. The Avalon Cornerstone Project is in full swing, and we still need people’s help. Completion of the mezzanine and rooftop areas is still to come, and the vision of the full buildout of the theater to include an expanded stage and additional performer amenities is alive and well, but we need the community’s generosity to achieve that vision.

We are happy to announce — here in the pages of The Daily Sentinel — the launch of our “Take Your Seat” campaign, and we seek the investment of the entire community to reach our goal.

Purchase a seat for $1,000 and your support will be recognized on our donor wall. Leave a lasting legacy by underwriting the Rooftop Terrace or one of our other exclusive naming opportunities — ranging from $50,000 to $3 million — recently approved by the City Council. And, of course, smaller contributions make a difference and will contribute to the success of the project. Every dollar counts, and we ask for whatever you can give. Whether it’s $25 or $2 million, we need the support of the entire community to finish this project.

Contributions can be made online by going to http://www.avalontheatrefoundation.org or by mail at P.O. Box 2243, Grand Junction, Colo., 81502. Donation forms are available at City Hall or the Downtown Development Authority office at 248 S. Fourth St., Grand Junction. More detailed project and campaign information is also available on the website.

Foundation representatives are more than happy to meet with people in person to answer any questions, as well as speak to civic clubs or organizations to give a campaign and construction update. Please call the Avalon Theatre Foundation office at 970-256-4131 for more information.

Walter Walker, early publisher of The Daily Sentinel, dreamed of a theater for western Colorado of which a city of any size would be proud. He realized that dream by raising private money from the community and building the Avalon Theatre beginning in 1922.

Although the Avalon has served this community well for generations, it remains largely unchanged from its original design. The current renovation and expansion will add the performer and patron amenities needed for the Avalon to continue to serve the needs of our community, as well as address ADA and safety-code issues, while still maintaining the intimate experience that patrons have come to love over the past 90 years.

Bathrooms on all levels, an elevator, expanded lobby and concessions, improved heating and cooling, new seats and a multipurpose room for smaller events are just the beginning of a long list of upgrades necessary to bring in larger acts, as well as to support our local performing arts groups.

Walker realized his dream when the Avalon Theatre opened in 1923. Help us to realize our dream of a performing arts center that will be a catalyst for economic development, as well as the cornerstone of culture for generations to come.

John E. Halvorson is president of the Avalon Theatre Foundation. Bennett Boeschenstein is a member of the Grand Junction City Council.


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