For a price, city offers ‘naming opportunities’ for Opera House
Cold, hard cash given by fans of the Granbury Opera House may take some of the heat off Granbury City Council members, who spent $3.4 million for the theater’s renovation.
For prices ranging from $500 to $500,000, check writers can name parts of the historic theater after themselves or in honor of a loved one.
The practice is not unusual for facilities devoted to the arts. It was council member Gary Couch who first proposed the idea, back when it became clear that the original $1.2 million earmarked for the renovation project wasn’t going to be nearly enough.
The campaign promoting “naming opportunities” launched last week with a Thursday evening tour for potential donors of the not-yet-finished Opera House.
Another tour took place last night for season ticket holders and members of the Granbury Opera Guild.
The theater is expected to reopen to the public in early December. The Granbury Theatre Company is planning for performances of “A Christmas Carol” to run through Dec. 21.
Scott Young, president of the Historic Granbury Merchants Association and a board member of the Theatre Company, said the building is “going to be incredible.”
“There is already all kinds of buzz from around the state,” he said. “We’ve had all kinds of inquiries, like from the Texas Travel Industry Association and the Texas Downtown Association.”
Young, as well as council member Mickey Parson, praised a number of features that will make the Granbury Opera House a quality venue for plays, musicals, theater schools and lecture series.
“I think people are just going to be amazed when they see the building,” said Young. “It’s all been done right. It’s state-of-the-art – as fine a facility as anywhere in the state of Texas, just maybe not as large.”
The theater will have seating for 309 patrons. Donors can pay to have name plates on the inside top of designated seats. Seating sponsorships are $500, $750 or $1,000, depending on where the seat is located.
The stage features a “sprung” floor for the benefit of dancers. Sprung floors absorb shocks and enhance performances. Parson said there will be quality acoustics as well, and an area where sets can be constructed on site.
There is also a rehearsal hall that matches the stage, a storage area for thousands of costumes and “Juliet balconies” on the second floor, where there is balcony seating.
Along the sides of the auditorium will be single seats similar to those at Bass Hall in Fort Worth.
“It’s a gorgeous facility,” said Parson, who was serving as one of the tour guides Thursday night when an actress appearing in the Granbury Theatre Company’s current production, “Lucky Stiff,” sang from one of the Juliet balconies. He said that one tour group was on the upstairs balcony and another was below, on the first floor.
Parson said it was a “magical” moment.
“Both groups were instantly just swept away by her singing,” the councilman said. “Everybody was just mesmerized and in awe of the sound.”
a long road
The road to a bigger, better Opera House has not been a smooth one.
In addition to lengthy delays and rising costs, there was public controversy when the City Council, in a 3-2 vote, declined the donation of the St. Helen’s building next door. Preserve Granbury, the Granbury Opera Guild and other groups and individual donors that had raised the money to purchase St. Helen’s had pledged to continue fundraising efforts on behalf of the Opera House.
Though the move to turn down St. Helen’s angered many, the additional space would not have added any theater seats. The space would have been used for a larger concessions area and a museum. As it is, the Opera House has a concessions desk in the downstairs lobby and another concessions area upstairs.
Expansion occurred through the back, with the removal of the old Quonset hut.
Parson said that even though the City Council “initially rebuffed the public’s attempt to participate” in fundraising for the Opera House, “we can’t let that prevent us from moving forward.”
Parson, council member Laurel Pirkle and Mayor Rickie Pratt had favored accepting St. Helen’s. However, council members Tony Allen, Mitch Tyra and Nin Hulett had concerns about it. Tyra is no longer on the council.
Couch, who beat Tyra for re-election, said the Opera House will have a “donor wall” of etched glass.
“It’s going to be backlit,” he said. “It’s going to look very nice.”
For $25,000, a donor can name the balcony concession area.
There are several opportunities for naming an aspect of the Opera House at the $50,000 level.
For that price, sponsors can name the rehearsal hall; the concession/ticket desk in the front lobby; either of the two Grand Staircases; or the Grand Chandeliers.
The privilege of naming the orchestra pit beneath the stage costs $100,000. The balcony landing? $150,000.
Sponsorship of the Grand Lobby is going for $300,000. And the chance to name “the main attraction” of the Opera House – its performance hall and stage – is a cool half million.
Anyone interested in a seating sponsorship should call Karla Walker at Granbury City Hall, 817-573-1114.
Those interested in any of the other sponsorships can call Couch at 817-578-0056.
With the Granbury Theatre Company planning five shows a week, Parson believes that it is “not far fetched” to assume that the new Opera House may bring 60,000 or more people to the town square.
“And if that happens,” he said, “I would say that tourism is reborn on the square.”
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