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Missouri Theatre launches new plan to raise money for restoration

1 man. 25,000 homes. 8 weeks. $500,000.
Friday, April 6, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:48 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

David A. White is a man with a plan.

Actually, he’s a man with a plan and a very long list of addresses.

Starting late Monday afternoon, White, executive director of the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts, will go door to door to 25,000 homes in Columbia to raise $500,000 for the theater’s capital campaign.

“Home is Where the Art Is” is the latest stage in a $6.6 million campaign to restore and expand the theater at 203 S. Ninth St. The public kickoff is at 4:30 p.m. Monday at Orr Street Studios, at Walnut and Orr streets, and White will begin knocking on doors then.

“This is an opportunity for me to thank the community for their support of the restoration of the Missouri Theatre face-to-face, in their own front yards,” White said.

White plans to devote himself to the task: visiting 450 houses a day for eight weeks.

“It will be a marathon,” White said, adding that he looks forward to losing a few pounds.

He figures he can reach the $500,000 goal if he can raise an average of $20 per house.

Complete with a red-and-white-striped knit cap, White will be dressed in a “Where’s Waldo?”-style outfit and a Missouri Theatre T-shirt.

The getup is part of a “Where’s David?” contest: Anyone with a camera who sees him around town can ask to have their picture taken with White for a chance to win a lifetime pass to the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts. Contest entrants must submit the photos by mail, in person, or e-mail sent to info@motheatre.org or by uploading them directly to motheatre.org. All photos will be posted there, and at the end of the eight weeks, a winner will be randomly chosen.

“The whole idea of this thing is fun,” White said. “I’m excited to get out and meet the people that come to the Missouri Theatre regularly.”

White’s route each day has been set and blocked out into two three-hour shifts. Volunteers will follow in a “support vehicle” provided by Cumulus Broadcasting, said Anne Meysenburg, director of special events and audience development for the Missouri Theatre.

The full schedule of White’s whereabouts is not being released to the public in order to make the “Where’s David?” contest more of a surprise to the community.

So far, the capital campaign has raised more than $4.5 million, most recently through the “Take Your Seat” program in which patrons can sponsor a new seat in the theater. “Take Your Seat” has raised $185,100 toward a goal of $820,000, said Kanani May, director of public relations and marketing for the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts. Sponsorship, which includes a plaque on the chair’s arm, costs from $250 to $1,000, depending on the seat.

“Take Your Seat” was open first to people closely connected to the theater; it opened to the public on Monday. May said 293 out of 1,187 seats have been claimed.

“We’re just getting an incredible number of orders for sponsorship,” she said.


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