Novato Theater is Bringing the Dream to Life!

Demolition Begins _ July 2013
Demolition Begins _ July 2013

With the removal of flaking tiles, worn carpet and non-bearing walls, the light is shining through for Novato Theater.  Recent soft demolition on the downtown theater shows a clear view of the limitless possibilities for the future of the rebuilt Novato Theater.  Upon completion, the state-of-the-art theater will showcase classic and independent film, live music, live theater, simulcast sports and live drama as well as corporate telecasts and private events.  Now, it’s exciting to look around this cleared space and envision a beautiful, expanded lobby, a new, huge main stage, and a mini-theater on the second floor.    

Vintage theater seats are waiting to be sold as memorabilia.  The circa-1945 theater seats go on sale Aug. 1 for $20 a chair. Seat purchases can be arranged at info@novatotheater.net or 415-539-7155.  The Novato Theater committee is holding an Open House on Sat., Aug. 3 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. “The doors will be open to welcome everyone into the theater to have a look for themselves!  They’ll be able to see the work in progress, ask questions and share ideas about what they want to see at the theater when it opens,” said June Haugen, Novato Theater board member.

Recently Novato Theater received a prestigious grant from the Marin Community Foundation for $25,000.  Dr. Thomas Peters, President & CEO of the Marin Community Foundation said, “The Marin Community Foundation is pleased to offer this $25,000 grant in support of the community’s grand effort to restore Novato’s theatre.  Supervisor Arnold made a most persuasive case about the project’s many potential contributions, from supporting a vibrant arts community to stimulating the downtown economy.  We are proud to add our dollars and our voice in concert with hers, and that of so many others throughout the region, in support of a project to reinvigorate and re-imagine this vital community resource.”    

The Novato Theater 501(c) 3 has raised in excess of $600,000 toward its initial fundraising goal of $1.4 million in order to continue the demolition and begin construction of the new venue that will offer state-of-the-art sound, band width and both digital and 35mm projection capability. After reaching this benchmark, construction will begin and the final $2 million will be raised.

Raising these funds is in the works on many different levels.  Novato Theater board of directors’ are actively working and meeting with major donor prospects, while the community volunteer team focuses on individual donations, events, partnerships, and outreach. 

“Community donors are the backbone of this project,” said Haugen. “Prior fundraising estimates were perceived to be $800,000. This was not in the form of cash on hand, but rather a combination of cash donations and pledges of cash, goods and services, and signed LLC (limited partners) investors. 

Included in that amount, was $120,000 in signed LLC potential investors, which would have owned the theater building real estate.  Novato Theater board member and CEO of Anchor Brewing, Keith Greggor explained, “We see our mission as not only raising funds to build out the theater but also to develop sustainable ongoing operations. In reviewing those future operations, the earlier conceived LLC mechanism, essentially an unsecured debt with interest and repayment obligations, it was decided that this approach was incompatible with our mission. The theater would have to absorb the ongoing costs of managing the LLC as well as annual interest payments while facing a large and potentially crippling repayment event down the road.”  This approach was abandoned and all LLC investors are donors to the project.  

The Novato Theater committee and its are presenting Third Annual Free Summer Concert fundraiser, Sun., Aug. 18, from 1:00 to 5:00 on Machin St., between Vallejo St. and Sweetser St. Our Event Partners for this rockin’ street dance are Redwood Credit Union and RotoRooter Plumbers and the event features the amazing dance band Wonder Bread 5 and the hip country sound of Uphill Both Ways Band.  Food, beer and wine has been generously donated by our Community Partners; Anchor Brewing, Trek Winery, Muscio’s, Powell’s Sweet Shoppe, Red Boy Pizza and Mi Pueblo and will be sold at the event.

For more information or to make a donation, please visit us online at www.novatotheater.net.  If you have additional inquiries, please don’t hesitate to email us at info@novatotheater.net.

Concerned citizen July 24, 2013 at 01:12 PM
It's a shame that we were not able to actually "save" and restore the old vintage theater. I had signed up to fundraise for the project until I realized the money was earmarked" first, to demolish the old theater and; then, to reconstruct a brand new theater to the tune of well into the millions. I know the original theater had fallen into a state of disarray, but it still seemed that restoration and the character of the old theater, as part of our town history, would have been cheaper, better suited for art films and much better served our donations and tax dollars, contributed by our supervisor, than rebuilding a "state of the art" new one. Tiburon, Larkspur and San Rafael have succeeded in preserving their old theaters, whereas, Novato seems to be quick about jumping into expensive, developer oriented construction, such as the incongruous Whole Foods/Millworks project, without regard to enhancing the character of Old Town.
george cohen August 11, 2013 at 02:18 PM
It would be significant to see a realistic business plan for the theater showing how it will be self-sustaining in the long run. Comparisons to Larkspur, San Rafael and Tiburon are not valid based on city size, house hold income, and competition. While having a downtown theater would be nice and might help the downtown to some degree one could seriously question the feasibility of the project after 20 years of trying.


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