The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 25, 2013

Theater halfway to fundraising goal

By Tina Alvey
Register-Herald Reporter

LEWISBURG — The historic Lewis Theatre is halfway to its goal of $39,000 with just over a week to go in a fundraising campaign through the online platform Kickstarter.com.

Only if the full amount is raised by the Nov. 3 deadline will the ca. 1939 Lewisburg landmark receive the pledged funds, which are needed to upgrade the theater’s movie projection apparatus and ensure the Lewis survives to celebrate its diamond anniversary in 2014.

With the end of studio production of 35-mm film right around the corner, the Lewis’ owners have already set aside about half of the $80,000 or so that will be needed to convert the equipment to meet modern standards.

Other upgrades the owners have already completed at the theater include installing steep stadium seating and raising the movie screen, meaning every seat in the house offers an unobstructed view. The Lewis also boasts the recent addition of a stage, lighting and a sound system to provide a suitable performance venue for Trillium Performing Arts, the theater’s company-in-residence.

“What makes the Lewis unique is that it is one of the essential anchors, entertainment-wise and culture-wise, in the beautiful, historic city of Lewisburg,” explains Larry Levine, one of the theater’s owners.

In addition to offering live performances and regular screenings of feature and specialty films, the Lewis has hosted more than 25 special events for local organizations in recent years.

The owners of the theater are known collectively as ALL Arts LLC, and Levine points out, “ALL Arts was formed by people interested in preserving the theater and providing a home for Trillium.”

While Trillium remains a separate entity and is not, therefore, directly involved in ALL Arts’ fundraising effort, Levine says, “It’s mutually beneficial for both Trillium and the owners if we succeed in meeting our funding goal.”

The full $39,000 Kickstarter.com goal must be met by 11:04 a.m. Nov. 3, or the amount pledged ($18,652, as of Thursday morning) will not be collected, Levine emphasizes.

The campaign will conclude with two special events at the Lewis.

First up is a concert by Possum Holler Glee Club and the Lewisburg debut of a new band named Lawless Brown, both Nov. 1, starting at 9 p.m. Admission is on a sliding scale ($10 to $30), with all proceeds benefiting the campaign.

The following evening, the theater will host the world premiere of “Road Trip to History: Lewisburg” at 7 p.m. This half-hour documentary, created by Oak Tree Productions for PBS, is tentatively scheduled to be broadcast by West Virginia Public Television on Thanksgiving evening. There is no admission charge for the premiere, but donations to the “Help Project the Lewis Theatre into the Future” campaign are welcome.

Pledges at the Kickstart-er.com website start at $1, but the owners of the Lewis are offering rewards to people supporting their project at levels of $25 and up. Rewards range from getting your “name in lights” on the theater screen to a private party featuring a film of your choice.

To make a pledge, go to Kickstarter.com and search for Lewis Theatre. For more information, call Levine at 304-645-3003 or visit the theater’s Facebook page.

— E-mail: talvey@register-herald.com