The Little Theatre in downtown Rochester kicked off a major fundraising campaign Thursday evening. The goal for the six-month long “Little Big Picture Campaign” is one million dollars to match the money given to the venue this year from the state’s Regional Economic Development Council.
That money will be used to continue major renovations, including building a larger stage in Theatre 1, replacing seats and improving accessibility. Wider door frames and handicap ramps are needed at the venue, said Norm Silverstein, president of the Little Theatre Film Society and WXXI Public Broadcasting Council. WXXI operates The Little Theatre.
“The accessibility is something I’m really pleased about too,” he said. “We recently had a concert in Theater 1, with a performer in a wheelchair and he had to be lifted up. So we’re going to be putting in ramps, and lifts and we’ve already put in a handicap accessible restroom on the first floor.”
The fundraiser information says that renovations will also restore the venue to its “original iconic state.” BERO Architecture is the firm behind the redesign. Architectural Associate Christopher Brandt says they used old reference materials in their design.
“We were lucky to find a book of clippings at the local history division of the Central Library on The Little Theatre and inside that clipping file was an anniversary booklet from 1949 and that booklet had a series of historic photographs including an interior pic of the theater, which we found in our research is pretty rare to find an interior photo of a movie theater,” he said.
They also found old lighting fixtures from several decades before that they plan to put back up. Theater 1 will close in late May for four months during the renovation process. Theaters 2-5 will remain open, though they are also seeing some upgrades.
One million dollars may sound like a lot but Silverstein says they’re well on their way: “We’ve already got commitments of about $300,000...and we already have spent over a million, so by the time this project is completed it could be well over a million dollars.”
To learn more about the fundraiser, visit The Little Theatre website.