The nonprofit Strand Theater Initiative in Zelienople has received a major shot in the arm—a $100,000 gift from an anonymous donor.
"This was one of the most astonishing, humbling and generous gifts I've ever seen," said Ron Carter, president and executive director of The Initiative,
"Truly, words can't describe how overwhelming it was to receive such an incredible gift from this donor. And it means so much beyond the obvious monetary value. This is the type of contribution that makes other foundations, corporations and philanthropists sit up and take notice. This is what causes others to pause and realize what a gem we have right here in Zelienople, and how possible it is to expand the dream."
Carter bought the theater—which had fallen into disrepair after sitting vacant for 25 years—in 2001 with the intention of opening it within six months. Eight years later—after raising $2.5 million for the renovation costs—the theater opened on July 16, 2009.
“It’s been a wild ride ever since,” Carter has told Patch.
And that’s not the end to the story.
Two more phases are planned for the building, including building a full stage house to accommodate a much deeper stage, wing and fly space and dressing rooms, as well as a two-level parking deck with a multi-purpose center for black box theatre, dance and acting classes and private functions.
Once the expansion is finished, it will allow the theater to create even more extravagant, full-scale theatrical programs, Carter said.
The total cost to complete both phases is estimated at $6.5 million
Carter said the $100,000 gift originally was to be placed in an interest-bearing account while the Initiative’s Capital Campaign continued.
However, the donor agreed to a proposal that Carter made to pay off the mortgage on the property at 121 N. Main Street, which the theater owns and factors largely into the expansion plans.
With that done, the monthly mortgage payments can be applied to the theater's bottom line, with a portion of it going back to the Capital Campaign, Carter said.
"We hope that this sends a clear signal to other potential donors that The Strand is a valued part of the community and will consider joining the initiative and help us complete the expansion," he said. "We offer a variety of tax-deductible gift programs and honorariums designed to fit any budget."