Historic Preservation Month Feature: The Grand Theater in Rocky Ford

6 May

THE GRAND THEATER

City: Rocky Ford, CO

Population: 4,000

Historic Structure: Yes, Colorado State Historic Registrar

Year Built: Originally built in 1908, rebuilt after a fire in 1935.

Public Non-profit: Grand Friends

Grand Theater 1The Grand Theater has a tenuous past, but has been able to flourish over the past 20 years with the continued support of a dedicated community.  After many years of abandonment and vandalism the City of Rocky Ford finally bought the building in 1991 and appointed a Rocky Ford Arts Commission to manage it. Even in an economically depressed area, the community came together and decided to open it back up to create a place for all ages to gather, and funding s
Five years ago, the Grand Theater received information from their booking agent about the inevitability of a digital conversion. They were encouraged to join the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) to stay informed and possibly get equipment cheaper. They did join the group but were able to fundraise and buy their equipment without NATO’s help.ources became available once they gained a spot on the Colorado State Historic Registrar.

Grand Theater 2

GRAND FRIENDS ORGANIZATION

The Grand Theater has a fundraising organization called the Grand Friends. With this organization and additional financial support from El Pomar Foundation, they were able to raise $85,000 to upgrade the facilities and buy digital equipment. Much of the Rocky Ford community either supports the theater financially or volunteers their time. Community groups volunteer at the theater on a rotating basis and their names are published in the newspaper every week.

The Grand Friends send out annual letters to solicit support from community members and businesses and tell them how the money has been used, such as renovation projects and the digital conversion. Other fundraising techniques included summer musicals and free events with suggested donations.

 

COMMUNITY IMPACT

The Grand Theater is an important community space and one of the only businesses in downtown Rocky Ford. With both a stage and a movie screen, the theater can hosts live performances, student musicals, political meetings as well as events like “Movie Bowl Trivia” and talent shows. The Rocky Ford and La Junta communities keep this theater alive through continued support, and the Grand Theater hopes to continue to preserve the theater as a vital piece of this community.

 

For more information visit: http://www.rfgrand.dockratent.com/

Photo source: http://www.chieftain.com/life/local/article_4e26619a-6076-11df-a013-001cc4c002e0.html

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