Printed on: September 07, 2013

Arts Council meets Rio Theater fundraising goal

By CODY McDEVITT
cmcdevitt@postregister.com

With gifts large and small, the Idaho Falls Arts Council has finally, after nearly four years, met its $1.53 million fundraising goal enabling it to turn the Rio Theater into the ARTitorium on Broadway.

In May, the council announced it needed to raise $241,000 to ensure a dollar-for-dollar match to earn the final $482,000 needed to complete the project. An anonymous $125,000 donation put the council over its goal to kick in the matching funds.

The council issued the challenge May 21. The deadline to qualify for the matching funds was Sept. 30. Community donors eclipsed the goal Friday with more than three weeks to spare.

A variety of donations, many as small as $25, helped make the capital campaign successful. Brandi Newton, executive director of the Idaho Falls Arts Council, said the group's leadership hopes to have the renovation finished by next summer.

The renovated building will be a technology-driven interactive arts center for young people. The second floor, which used to be the Rio Theater's balcony, will turn into the 170-seat M-C Theater. It will include sound recording studios available to local arts and youth organizations, as well as the Idaho Falls Arts Council. Renovations to the faade began in August. Construction on the building's interior will begin this fall.

"We are invigorated and eager to carry out the project," Newton said. "We look forward to next summer to see kids participate in activities we've dreamed about for five years."

Early donations of more than $10,000 came from a variety of community organizations and businesses.

The campaign for the ARTitorium project started prior to 2009. The effort received an early boost in the form of a $285,000 grant from the State Department of Education for the project, according to previous reports.

Other early major donors to the campaign include the William and Shirley Maeck Family Foundation, Anne Voillequé and Louise Nelson, Stephen Martin in memory of Linda Martin, Idaho National Laboratory, the CHC Foundation, CH2M-WG, Teton Toyota, Bank of Idaho, Jeff and Shari Neiswanger, American Fabrication, the Lewis Corp., Steve and Jackie Larsen, Mountain View Hospital, Rex and Tiffany Redden, Steve and Cindy Carr, Amy Lientz and Jay Astle, Paul and Susan Divjak, Jerry and Ann Shively, and the US Bancorp Foundation.

The council also recognized the following businesses and individuals for providing major gifts: the Bank of Commerce, The Hartwell Corp., Citizens Community Bank, Terry Miller, Ron and Sue Rope, Green Kids Club and Chesbro Music Co.

By May, the group had raised $1 million for the campaign. At that time, Capital Campaign Co-Chairwomen Carrie Getty Scheid CM and Mary Lynn Hartwell organized the $482,000 Challenge Grant named the "Phantom 2.0."

The phantom donors of the matching funds were anonymous at the time. On Friday, they were identified as Ralph and Mary Lynn Hartwell, Jerry and Carrie Scheid, Tracy and Eric Hoart, US Bank, Virginia Willard, Park and Sharon Price and the Leland D. Beckman Foundation.

"I think that overall, we are excited to bring this to our community because we are committed to have these activities for our children, our neighbors and people traveling through our community," Newton said.

The Arts Council continues to accept donations and pledges for the project. To make a gift or pledge, call Newton at 522-0471.