Broadway Theater continues fundraising campaign

Performers were rehearsing for the Broadway Theatre’s 2015 Christmas celebration when a broken furnace sent 30 people to the hospital.

The malfunctioning furnace leaked carbon monoxide into the building, poisoning its inhabitants.

More than a year later, the theatre has closed for the winter and the furnace is still broken. Friends of Broadway, the non-profit organization that operates the theatre, must raise an estimated $35,000 in order to install a heating system that is compatible with the building’s structure.

The organization created a campaign called “Heat the Seats” and has collected approximately $4,000 in donations. Cynthia Kilmer, the Friends of Broadway chairwoman, hopes to expand fundraising efforts to reach the goal.

“(We) have been organizing and brainstorming strategies to collaborate with the community and raise money,” Kilmer said.

Ideas have included arranging a banquet and putting on public programs outside of the theater, she said.

The Broadway Theatre opened in 1929. The building served as a venue for silent films and theatrical performances. Because of closing for the winter, the theatre’s ability to earn revenue has sharply diminished.

“(Our holiday program) is a big fundraising event for us so we have had a major financial setback,” Kilmer said. “We were still able to do things in the summer and fall with no heat. But when the cold weather comes upon us, we can no longer do anything.”

Donna Lea, a Broadway Theatre volunteer, created a GoFundMe page to support the theatre’s campaign. However, she said it seems unlikely the fundraiser will raise enough funds on its own.

“We are going to have to borrow money and have to get another mortgage,” Kilmer said. “It does not look like we will be able to avoid that.”

The theatre has continued to organize auditions for productions, such as the Broadway Playhouse Kids’ production of “Aladdin,” but the meetings must be held in nearby community buildings. Lea wants to see the community do more to support the local arts.

“As a non-profit, we do not have a lot of money,” Lea said. “People’s disposable income is down, with Netflix and so much home entertainment it’s difficult to get patrons out to the theater.”

Kilmer understands the venue’s goal may not be met, but she “maintains an optimistic mind” in regard to Broadway’s challenges.

“We think it’s a worthwhile cause to keep running,” she said.

Outside of community performances, the theater has been home to many Central Michigan University events, such as the Alpha Psi Omega’s Rocky Horror Picture Show Production.

Those interested in donating to Friends of Broadway can visit the nonprofit’s Gofundme page.


About Samantha Shriber

Samantha Shriber is a staff reporter at Central Michigan Life and is a Saint Clair Shores ...

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