Avalon backers try to raise $500,000 more for project

SPECIAL TO THE SENTINEL—The logo for the Avalon Theatre renovation project in downtown Grand Junction refers to a fundraising effort whereby a $1,000 contribution buys a seat, with the donor’s name to be displayed on a wall. Similar pitches are made for greater amounts.

Now’s your chance to get in on history.

It’s nearly impossible to miss the new stone multipurpose room being tacked onto the east side of the Avalon Theatre. Inside, even more work is underway as construction crews have gutted the historic structure and are busy reflooring, and renewing its interior with the latest sound and viewing technology. Soon, steel beams will be set into place and a glass frame will encase a new lobby at the corner of Main Street and Seventh Street in Grand Junction.

For those who want to help create a gleaming new cultural center, the Avalon Theatre Foundation is fundraising just shy of $500,000 to finish off the project’s first phase. One option of the Take Your Seat campaign is a donation of $1,000, a contribution that buys a seat and lists donor names on a donor wall.

Also, folks who donated seats for the last renovation will have those placards displayed somewhere in the facility. Bricks enscribed with names of former donors outside the Avalon will not be torn up, nor will they be replaced if the enscribed name is worn down.

Nobody will balk if you can’t give $1,000. Donations of any amount are appreciated, said Robin Brown, development director of the fundraising committee for the Avalon Theatre Foundation.

“If $1,000 is too much, give $25,” Brown said. “Every dollar counts.”

The Take Your Seat campaign is targeted to younger donors. The logo, which also states: “Culture Matters. Pony Up.” has resonated with youthful donors, between about ages 18 and 30, Brown said.

Another parallel campaign, directed at a more mature audience, includes a photo of the Avalon at night, also asking patrons to donate in the name of preserving culture.

Additionally, businesses can donate $5,000 and have their names splashed on televisions in the lobby, Brown said.

Several donors are in the process of lining up naming rights for areas of the Avalon. A list of the amount of donations and their corresponding naming rights are listed on the fundraising website, AvalonTheatreFoundation.org.

No one yet has come forward with a donation large enough to earn their name or business on the entire structure, Brown said. That donation size is not expressly outlined, but the second-most generous donation for one to earn their name on the multipurpose room is listed as between $600,000 and $1 million.

Total costs for the first phase are $8.5 million. The theater is expected to open by mid-June, though the new lobby and multipurpose room may not be ready until about August, Brown said.

With a recent $1 million grant from the Department of Local Affairs and funding by the city of Grand Junction and the Downtown Development Authority, Brown said she believes much of the drama surrounding the construction startup has passed. DOLA officials said they supported the project because it represented a collaboration among local agencies and would stimulate Grand Junction’s downtown. DDA initially pledged $3 million and city councilors first dedicated $1 million, then increased the contribution to $3 million. A set of newly elected councilors in April initially balked about honoring the $3 million pledge because city funds are tight, but councilors ultimately approved the funds.

“The exciting thing is people thought it would never happen, now it’s really close to getting done,” Brown said. “As hard as this project has been, it’s something to celebrate right now. We’ll finish the first phase, take a break for a year, celebrate then give it some time before fundraising for the second phase. Right now, getting to this place is something to celebrate.”

Donors have several ways to contribute including via the website, through the mail or by placing donations in envelopes at Grand Junction City Hall, 250 N. Fifth St. or the office of the Downtown Development Authority, 248 S. Fourth St. Mail contributions to the Avalon Theatre Foundation, P.O. Box 2243, Grand Junction 81502 or donate online at AvalonTheatreFoundation.org.

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