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Theatre kicks off campaign with $25,000

October 04, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A longtime patron - and former part-owner - of The Capitol Theatre kicked off the theater's first giving campaign Friday, contributing $25,000 toward the goal of $125,000 to be raised by Dec. 5 to help cover the theater's operational costs.

"I've had a passion for this theater for a long time ... This really is a gem," retired businessman C.Q. Smith said of the theater, which opened as a movie house 81 years ago. He has been attending the theater since he was 7, and previously purchased a grand piano for it, Smith said.

In the 1970s, Smith was part of a company that owned the theater, which was purchased 12 years ago by Downtown Chambersburg Inc.

"You don't have to be on stage to be a star," said Joan Mitchell, chairwoman of The Capitol Theatre Center Foundation Board of Directors. "We want the community to respond and show that they care about The Capitol Theatre as much as he does."

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Community theaters often run an operating shortfall, but Mitchell said the Capitol's is less than most, about 15 percent. The shortfall between revenue and expenses has been about $60,000 per year for the past five years, and the gap has been made up by government grants and the theater's endowment, she said.

The cost of health insurance, taxes and utilities also went up almost $40,000 between 2006 and 2007, according to theater figures.

"Raising ticket prices is always an option ... but we feel we have a mission to provide affordable entertainment to the community," Mitchell said. Although the campaign kicked off Friday, Mitchell said $54,250 already has been raised, a figure that included Smith's contribution.

In addition to the Be A Star campaign to raise the $125,000, Mitchell said the foundation also is attempting to increase its endowment from the current $1 million to $3 million so that it eventually can be used to fund any shortfalls for future projects.

Paul Cullinane, president of Downtown Chambersburg Inc., said the theater is an important cultural resource and has reached out to the community, including programs for elementary school children.

Contributions can be made to The Capitol Theatre Center Foundation, 159 S. Main St., Chambersburg, PA 17201.

For information, call the theater at 717-263-0202.

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