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Auditorium fundraising off and running--again

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The community auditorium committee is aiming to exceed the $570,000 fundraising commitment it made to Fort Frances town council earlier this year.

Committee co-chairman John Dutton said last week they wanted to raise an extra $100,000 to cover the cost of theatre equipment, such as sound, lights, curtains, rigging, and the catwalk.

Some $175,000 originally was budgeted for theatre equipment, which the committee considered to be “just enough to get by.” But at last week’s regular meeting, council chopped that amount to $75,000 although it also raised the town’s financial commitment by another $300,000 to $1.8 million.

“We’re about $107,000 short of equipping it," Dutton noted. "To bring it up to the standard that we want it to be.”

So far, the committee has raised $530,000 in pledges from 750 members of the community. But Dutton noted many corporate sponsors told them to return the following year because they made contributions on an annual basis.

On top of the pledges, the committee also is planning some other fundraisers, including a dinner/dance Feb. 14 with two limited edition Robert Bateman prints to be auctioned off.

And with the auditorium slated to open in January, 1999, Dutton added income from some performances could be put towards the final bill.

“I think it’s doable," he said of the additional fundraising. "And the other thing is we have five years to do it.”

But since the town already has started getting bills for the auditorium project, the task facing the committee is to collect the pledges. Only about half the money pledged has come in.

Dutton noted anyone who still needs to make arrangements for payment can pick up an appropriate form at the high school office. And if they have any questions, people can call him there.

Meanwhile, Dutton felt there was a misconception that this would be the community auditorium committee’s facility. He stressed the auditorium for the entire community, not just those spearheading the fundraising efforts.

“I’d say the largest gain is probably going to be to the students," he stressed. "[But] the final result is that this is going to be a building that belongs to the town.”

Based on present performances, if the town made $1 per seat, it’s estimated the auditorium will generate about $30,000 a year for the town.

The local public school board is to cover day-to-day costs associated with the auditorium (such as lights and heat) while the town would be responsible for any capital costs.

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