Originally named The Wells Theatre when it opened back in 1918, The Augusta Imperial is a wonderful building that belongs to the historical collection of downtown Augusta. Over the weekend, I visited the Theatre to show support for the Save the Imperial campaign that has been going on since earlier this year. I was surprised that there weren’t that many people out there, but then again there aren’t many known/advertised events hosted there. Which is why I thought the Save the Imperial campaign was to save it from shutting down; when now I understand that it isn’t about that. What’s happening is the Board of the Imperial Community Theatre Inc. wants to preserve the historic integrity of the downtown theatre. So, they started a capital campaign to gain the funds needed to preserve it for future generations. Which is all well and good, but the phrase “Save the Imperial” makes the situation seem more impending than what it really is. I mean, I spoke with the Executive Director of the Imperial, Charles Scavullo, and he says that they are doing well and already have 2013 and most of 2014 lined up. He told me that they have events going on all the time.
Doing some internet searches, I find that to be true. But, when talking to people around town, it seems that no one knows of these events if they aren’t a part of them. I think that’s because the building and its events are not well publicized. Perhaps the events they decide to host may limit their exposure to those who can afford it. But, For the Imperial to be respected as a “landmark” of Augusta, I think it needs to include itself more into the broader community and the community needs to respond to that involvement… It’s a relationship, so it should go both ways… The same goes for a lot of other supposed “landmarks” in Augusta.
But yeah, back to “Saving the Imperial”… They have made some progress in their preservation project. So far they have replaced the orchestral level seats, revamped the sound system, updated and expanded the lighting system for the stage, and renovated one of their dressing rooms, and begin some work on the the second floor. All of this to keep The Imperial up to date and future proof, so to speak. To help fully realize this project, they set a “goal of raising at least $250,000 to qualify for matching funds of $1 million in special purpose, local-option sales tax funds to be provided by Augusta-Richmond County in 2013 and 2014.” – The Augusta Chronicle. Qualifying in that bracket will allow SPLOST spending for maintenance based renovation jobs like modernizing fire escapes, heating and air systems, and some painting.
As of Friday night they were pretty close to reaching the $250,000 mark. Well known NBC 26 personality and talented drummer Jay Jefferies, was out in front of the Imperial for several hours to help raise a couple more dollars with a drum-a-thon. Of course I showed up when he decided that it was time to wrap it up. If I got there sooner I would’ve had some video for you all… Maybe next time…
Hopefully they’ll reach their goals and be able to update all the necessary items, because I would love to perform there one day!
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