Maplewood Barn Community Theatre looks for fundraising opportunities

Tuesday, February 15, 2011 | 5:58 p.m. CST; updated 10:50 a.m. CST, Wednesday, February 16, 2011

COLUMBIA — With a construction plan about a month away from being finalized, Maplewood Barn Community Theatre is looking for ways to raise money to complement the city and taxpayer contributions to building a new barn.

The barn in Nifong Park, home to the theater for almost 40 years, was destroyed by fire in April.

The board of the Maplewood Barn Community Theatre, along with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, is finishing a barn-rebuilding plan that will combine two construction options proposed last year, said Michael Scott, president of the community theater.

“The structure will not look exactly like option A or option B that we were talking about late last summer,” Scott said. “But it will be roughly the same size as the original barn.”

The city plans to help with reconstruction by contributing funds from park sales taxes, which voters voted to extend in November. Money from park sales taxes will go toward Nifong Park overall and the barn specifically.

In addition to an estimated $100,000 from the city’s insurance on the historic barn, $150,000 of the park sales tax will go to the new construction.

The city estimates the barn will cost between $250,000 and $325,000.

The community theater's board is reviewing ways to supplement and match city and taxpayer contributions through fundraising events as part of a new capital campaign. A casino night in April, an outdoor music series and a trivia contest are being considered, Scott said.

In addition to structural changes, flooring, climate control and indoor plumbing are being explored as additions to the new barn if the budget permits, according to Scott. Prior to the fire, patrons and actors had to rely on running water in bathrooms farther away from the actual barn.

Tim Crockett, the theater’s volunteer engineer, said the focus for now is building a structure within the budget. 

“The biggest thing is how we can build something that can suit all the needs of the community, while still maintaining the tight budget that we’re on," Crockett said.

Although the additions to the barn would be ideal for the theater’s fans and actors, Scott echoed the idea that the most important element is the barn’s structure. 

“We hope to have a completed exterior for our 4oth season," Scott said. "Anything above the shell would be a bonus.” The theater's 40th season will begin in May 2012.

This year, community theater members will perform at other venues around Columbia, according to the Maplewood Barn website. However, they consider Nifong Park and the Maplewood Barn their home, Scott said.

Scott also expressed hopes for the new barn's impact on the community, calling 2012 a big year for the theater.

The theater's efforts are pointed at making the Maplewood Barn a space for Columbia residents to come and spend leisure time and be entertained. 

“What we're hoping is that people will enjoy what we’ve always called our 'theater under the stars,'” Scott said.

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