GOSHEN - The Goshen Theater on Main Street has gone dark, but a new non-profit group hopes it won’t stay closed way for long.
A group of individuals has formed Goshen Theater Inc. and applied for not-for-profit status to attempt to reopen and rehabilitate the building. The group hopes to eventually provide an up-to-date, vibrant community theater for the downtown district.
President of Goshen Theater Inc. Gina Leichty said the theater will basically be closed at the end of the week. It has been the site for Downtown at 808 church and a number of community events, including GoShakes theater and family movies.
A task force formed several years ago, former task force member Myron Bontrager said, to conduct a feasibility study that would investigate the viability and need for a theater in the city. Upon the study’s completion, the task force morphed into the non-profit entity to eventually take control of the facility from current owner Downtown at 808 church.
Bontrager, who at the time the task force convened was also pastoring Downtown at 808, recently stepped down as pastor and is not part of the fledgling non-profit.
Goshen Theater Inc. now has a memorandum of understanding with Downtown at 808 to provide the new organization time to raise funds to purchase the building by the end of the year, Leichty said.
Downtown at 808 has heard several from several other interested parties, but because of their desire to keep the theater in local possession. “They are very committed to making sure that building stays in the community’s hands so that’s why they’re willing to work with Goshen Theater Inc.,” Leichty said.
The plan is to fund the both the purchase and renovations through private funding and grants, she added.
An initial fund-raising campaign will assist GTI in purchasing the building. “Once we have the building, then our intention is to launch a major capital campaign to do the full restoration,” Leichty said.
She stated that the handful of events already scheduled for the theater through this year will still be honored, but the current owner will not be booking any further events.
She added that GTI would like to reopen the theater within the next year, assuming they raise the funds necessary to purchase the building, and would work at raising funds for renovation and operation from there.
“Nobody wants to see that building torn down,” Leichty said. “Everybody recognizes that it’s a huge footprint for out downtown. There’s great potential for contributing to the economic vitality.”
A copy of the original feasibility study and its various elements can be found on the Downtown Goshen Inc. website at www.cityonthego.org.