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Rodgers Theatre receives Arts Council donation

by Corning Observer

Every penny helps when it comes to the Corning Community Foundation’s Rodgers Theatre renovation project, said foundation member Tony Cardenas.

“That is why we are so appreciative of the $500 grant we recently received from the Tehama County Arts Council, The California Arts Council and The One Million Plates for the Arts Project,” Cardenas said.

The funds were used to purchase five 60-inch round folding banquet tables that will be used for community events when the theater’s renovations have been completed.

“Our plans are to make the theater more than just a place to watch a movie,” said Foundation member, Kyle Lauderdale. “The foundation’s vision is for the structure to be a community center as well as a movie theater.”

Work on the 75-year-old theater has been under way for some time, but there is a lot more to do.

“We have ordered the new tile for the front of the building,” Cardenas said. “The new tile is olive green and cream. We will also be replacing the glass on the theater’s movie display cases.”

Funding for this phase of the project comes from a $46,300 grant provided by the McConnell Foundation through the Shasta Regional Community Foundation.

The seating area of the theater has been pretty much gutted through volunteer efforts and part of the $220,000 in city park funds. Those funds will also be used to demolish the theater’s old bathrooms.

Using park funds, $50,000 raised by Friends of the Theater, and a $35,000 grant from the California Energy Commission’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program, other renovation work has included a new roof and ventilation, ceiling insulation, heating and air-conditioning units, ducting equipment, lighting improvements, and the installation of structural support framing and minor concrete work.

The city-owned theater was closed in 2006 due to its condition problems and not being compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Not willing to see the theater remain closed, members of the community came to the rescue and formed the Friends of the Theater committee, which in turn organized the nonprofit Corning Community Foundation.

The foundation is now spearheading the efforts to renovate the building.

Cardenas said the foundation has pretty much use up the funds it has to date, but there are ideas in the works to fund the next phase.

Estimated cost to complete the renovations and re-open the theater is $800,000, but that depends on how much of the work can be performed by volunteers.

Built in 1935 by the Rodgers family, the theater one of the few giant single-screen movie houses left in the state.

In 1991, it was endowed to the city by Daniel and Wealthy Rodgers, along with $50,000 for upkeep.

Over the years, the theater has been a mainstay of entertainment for the city’s residents, featuring many premiere-night movies such as “Lord of the Rings” and “Harry Potter.”

Every year around Christmas, it would open for the community’s children to come watch a movie free-of-charge and enjoy a visit from Santa Claus.

“We are hoping to be able to offer that same type of service to the community and even more with the building set up as a community center as well as a theater,” Cardenas said.

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