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RBC I The Meeker Arts and Cultural Council (MACC) is working in cooperation with and on behalf of the Meeker School District Re-1 and Meeker High School to launch a community fundraising project that would permit renovation and enhancement of the Meeker High School Auditorium.
The high school auditorium was built in 1955 and still utilizes largely the same original stage electrical lighting control systems, wiring, as well as cable winch systems, light battens, draperies and audience seating. It was reported that a major national museum is actually interested in acquiring the original lighting dimmer system console (which is now considered an antique) for their historic theatre collection exhibits.
The community is in urgent need of an adequate and state-of-the-art performing arts venue. It may not be financially feasible to build a new performing arts center in the community, thus renovation of the auditorium may be the most cost-effective and rapidly realized solution to these concerns. Such a venue may also contribute to heritage and agri-tourism economic development opportunities and help support other attractions such as the sheepdog trials activities.
State budgeting allocation shortfalls over the years have not permitted funding much-needed auditorium renovations. Little has been done to renovate the auditorium since it was constructed more than 54 years ago. Since 2006, a campaign has been conducted to obtain grant funding and donations to gradually acquire a minimal number of modern lighting instruments, as well as a wireless microphone sound system, sound mixer and amplifier and speaker system.
However, all the other stage infrastructure remains very obsolete 1955-era technology and does not meet modern safety and production standards of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), National Electrical Code (NEC), as well as the recommended technical theatrical safety and performance standards of the United States Institute for Theatrical Technology (USITT). Winches and cabling for rigging are particularly in need of replacement as are draperies, scenery flying systems, a digital computerized lighting dimmer control system, and all the wiring associated with lighting and control systems. Seating is particularly in need of renovation, and a new elevated sound and lighting control booth is essential to free up an additional 26 seats at the rear of the auditorium which are often needed for performances but are unavailable. Original soundproofing required for acoustic balance was removed years ago for asbestos abatement but was never replaced with new acoustic technology, resulting in reverberation and inferior acoustic performance of the venue. Scenery design, construction and storage space are very limited or unavailable. Consultants evaluating the auditorium structure have stated that the original architectural design was very well done, but renovation is essential to restore the performing arts center to modern theatrical codes and standards.
The auditorium is widely and frequently used throughout the year, not only for many school performing arts productions such as band and choir concerts, drama club plays and musicals, but also for a variety of community-based performances such as the ERBM Recreation and Parks District Center Stage Youth Theatrical Group’s fall musical productions and the dance program’s spring dance recitals, as well as many other performing arts productions. Moreover, many community groups use the auditorium for a variety of performing arts public events such as the Christmas Chorale, Cowboy Poets, et al. MACC is proposing to restore the popular visiting professional artists community concerts programs and a community theatre productions group such as the former “Curtain Call” organization which presented plays throughout the year in the 1950s through the 1970s.
An additional exciting addition is the proposed installation of a state-of-the-art professional digital motion picture theatre projection and 7.1 digital surround sound system, and a large full-sized high definition wide-screen which will permit showing high-definition digital motion pictures. This may provide fundraising opportunities for student groups and community non-profit organizations and much-needed entertainment opportunities afforded by the traditional Americana “hometown movie theaters” of the 20th century. Community members have also expressed interest in forming an “oldies but goodies” classic film studies group. Meeker has not had a movie theatre since the 1970s. The former Princess Theatre (later known as the Rio Theatre) was located where the current Rio Blanco County Abstract Co. building now exists on Main Street. Rifle’s traditional Ute Theatre was recently extensively renovated as a performing arts center and now attracts popular live bands and performing arts groups, and shows classic films to an enthusiastic audience in that community.
MACC has obtained professionally designed renovation proposals from experienced theatrical design consultants for needed enhancements and offered a proposal to the school district to lead a campaign directed to community organizations, special districts, philanthropic foundations, businesses, corporations and other viable funding resources to seek essential funding for this worthwhile effort.
MACC is requesting potential donors contact the Meeker School District offices at 970-878-9040 to offer funding or to learn more about the project proposal.