Fox Theatre Institute awards two grants including one to Plaza Theatre

By Maria Saporta

The Fox Theatre Institute has awarded  grants to help in the restoration of two theaters —  the Plaza Theatre in Atlanta and the President Theatre in Manchester.

The grants are part of the Fox Theatre Institute’s initiative to help preserve historic buildings, revitalize arts programs and strengthen local economies.

There will be a formal announcement of the two grants at an event at the Plaza Theatre on Ponce de Leon Avenue on Sept. 23 from 10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m.

“We are very excited to work with these deserving recipients throughout Georgia and right here in Atlanta,” said Molly Fortune, director of restoration at the Fox Theatre. “Our goal is to restore vitality to their historic theatres as well as the communities that they serve.”

The President Theatre will receive $27,000; and the Plaza Theatre will receive $5,390 from the Fox Theatre Institute.

Not including these two most recent grants, the Institute has provided $185,000 for restoration grants; and $104,000 for presenting grants through its booking consortium — Georgia Presenters.

The restoration grants have helped leverage an additional $300,000 in community support, and the presenting grants have helped support more than 100 performances across the state.

The two grants will go to specific projects.

The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta – Just in time for the Plaza Theatre’s 75th anniversary, the Institute grant funding will help to restore the theatre’s marquee. The restoration will involve changing from fluorescent to LED lighting and rehabilitating areas affected by rust.

This will not only improve the theatre’s prominent appearance on Ponce de Leon Avenue. in the heart of Atlanta, but it will lessen the theatre’s environmental impact by reducing electricity usage and cost.

The President Theatre in Manchester – The Institute’s grant funding will allow for complete reconstruction of the historic theatre’s façade from the marquee to the top of the tower and spire. The original marquee has been in disrepair for more than 30 years.

A newsletter from the 1940’s indicates that the first row of seats in this historic theatre were placed farther back, leaving room for patients with polio recovering in nearby Warm Springs who were in wheelchairs. The emphasis of the restoration will focus on rehabilitating these structures to the original jewel art deco quality of 1935.

The Georgia Historic Preservation Handbook, which was launched last year, will remain a key component to restoration projects moving forward. The Handbook serves as a comprehensive resource promoting the understanding and practice of historic preservation in Georgia.

In addition to grant funding, the Institute provides each recipient with guidance, advice and consultation so that they too can create thriving arts programs in their own communities.

“We believe an essential step to ensuring the longevity of these theatres is to build a multi-purpose venue, so to create new channels for revenue,” says Adina Erwin, general manager of the Fox Theatre.  “In turn, this helps to stimulate economic growth and build stronger communities overall.”

The Fox Theatre Institute was created by Atlanta’s “Fabulous Fox” Theatre, a restoration that has been heralded as one of the most successful preservation projects in the state.

The Institute is an initiative that “pays it forward” — helping other cultural institutions renew, reinvigorate and restore artistic vitality in their backyards and beyond. It offers the financial assistance, restoration support and operations mentoring needed to leverage scarce resources and stimulate local economies.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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