Council hears update on Historic Sidney Theater renovations

By Sheryl Roadcap -

SIDNEY — A presentation on the progress of the The Sidney Historic Theatre’s renovations was given to Sidney City Council during its Monday evening workshop session.

Raise the Roof for the Arts/The Historic Sidney Theatre Executive Director Ian Hinz highlighted Phase I plans to transform the first floor of the building, with the timeline of work to be complete within the next 12 to 18 months.

The Historic Sidney Theatre is poised to redefine public life in Shelby County, Hinz said. For nearly 100 years the building has served the performing arts, mostly showing movies, he said, but it must now take on the challenges of evolving cultural demands in the 21st century.

Raise the Roof for the Arts has been working with MASS Design Group Team, which works with non-profits, and Freytag and Associates to create a vision for the plan.

To “Transform, inspire, and heal Sidney through incubation, creation, and education in the performing arts,” is the mission Raise the Roof for the Arts’ board, Hinz and community members developed for the renovation project. Out of this mission, came the plan to create an ADA compliant community center at the theatre, not just a performing arts center, in the current building footprint, Hinz said.

Within the last year renovations include: the restrooms, new curtains, the Phase I installation of the shell of an Airstream to be used for concessions, the west storefront with climate control air conditioning/heating and new drywall. Currently the surround install and digital projector, which will allow for the showing of first run recently release movies, is being installed. It will be ready for movies to be displayed in April. The performance sound installation has arrived, Hinz said, and is be installed this month.

The goal is to create a place for the entire community of all ages and walks of life. He hopes for the building to operate 300 days a year for meetings, classes, weddings, banquets, movies, concerts or other performing arts throughout the three floors of renovated spaces.

Much of the building is not being utilized, such as the basement and upper floors. The concept is to open up the space all the up to the third floor with a continuous staircase and to encourage community engagement. Hinz said the adaptive reuse of the building proposes transformable spaces for full and temporary rental space for businesses, special events, classrooms, and live-work studios to fill a critical gap in downtown programming.

As the building is transformed to embrace the public realm, Hinz said, adjacent businesses will benefit from increased visitors. The plan is to create a flexible arts space that “blurs boundaries between front-of-house and back-of-house, history and aspiration, making and consuming at the urban, building, and individual program scale.”

The design includes installing a flat floor on the first floor, where traveling bleacher-style seating sections featuring individually mounted backed seats can be folded-up and pushed back. This will allow space for other uses on the floor, such as banquets or weddings. Future plans throughout the building also include an auditorium on the ground floor, rehearsal space, a living room space, a tech sound booth that can be used for recording, a cafe and whiskey bar, and potentially a place to stay overnight as a hotel, and an outdoor cinema.

A total of 710 seats would be the standard set-up within auditorium and balcony seating. With standing performances such as concerts, 1010 people could be held in the space. Once tables and its seats are brought in, the space could fit 280 up to possibly 400 people for banquets.

When asked where the funds will come from, Hinz said some money comes from the state, some from fundraising and private donations. He held back sharing the dollar amount, as final numbers have yet to be approved by the board, told Mayor Mike Barhorst $750,000 was requested from the state’s capital budget.

Hinz invited council members to the upcoming “State of the Theatre” event planned for April 18, 2020; additional details will be coming.

In other business at the end of the meeting, City Manager Mark Cundiff urged all eligible voters in the city to vote in the Primary Election on March 17. He also noted Census Day, April 1, was fast-approaching and urged city residents to complete and promptly return the Census questionnaire.

By Sheryl Roadcap

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.