Jaffrey's Park Theatre makes push for final funding of construction projectBy MEGHAN PIERCE
Union Leader Correspondent February 07. 2017 7:12PM
JAFFREY — The Park Theatre has launched its final capital-campaign push for the project to rebuild the theater into a movie house and center for the arts.
“We need to be breaking ground sometime in the fall, September, October, we’ve got to be rolling,” said Steve Jackson, CEO and managing director of The Park Theatre, on Tuesday.
The campaign has raised the necessary $4.7 million for construction, Jackson said. But construction can’t start without escrow and contingency funds in place.
“Basically we’re working on a deadline on raising these last escrow monies that are necessary and some compliance money,” Jackson said.
The Park Theatre’s capital campaign started the year off with a $15,000 grant from The McIninch Foundation, which was matched by another $15,000 gift from a longtime Park Theatre supporter.
These two contributions launched the theater’s “Groundbreakers Campaign,” Jackson said, to raise $500,000 in the next few months to fulfill requirements of its government funders before this summer.
“During the past year, we’ve run into a number of unforeseen obstacles and regulatory requirements that delayed our original start date,” according to Jackson. “Those delays have cost us time and money. It means we now need another $500,000 to put those shovels in the ground.”
With the grant and match equaling $30,000, the amount left to raise is $470,000.
“It’s a big number, but it’s a manageable number,” Jackson said, especially since The Park Theatre is gaining new fans with its recently opened River Street Theatre.
A new 28-seat movie theater and intimate performing space on River Street has been opened in anticipation of the rebuilding of the town’s old movie house, The Park Theatre on Main Street, which now has an opening planned for 2018.
The River Street Theatre is launching a regular movie schedule this month. In March, it will begin broadcasting HD Shakespeare productions from Stratford-upon-Avon in England.
Jackson said many naming opportunities are still available for the project.
The Park Theatre first opened in Jaffrey in 1922 and was the center of community life as a movie and vaudeville house for 54 years until it closed in 1976.
A grassroots campaign to restore the theater was started 11 years ago. Through the planning process, it became apparent the old building would be too costly to refurbish. So in 2013, the old movie house was demolished.
The new building is expected to include two venues — a main theater that would seat about 370 people and a 100-seat auditorium.
The Park Theatre plans to host a variety of live performances as well as movies.
The River Street Theatre was opened late last year to generate excitement for The Park Theatre project and give the community a taste of the type of programing the Park Theatre will bring, Jackson said.
Schedules, programs and tickets for The River Street Theatre are available at theparktheatre.org and at The Park Theatre box office at 532-8888.