The Depression-era theater was renovated courtesy of $3.7 million donated by local residents and businesses, and an additional $2 million loan from the Bank of North Georgia. That 5 percent loan is being serviced with operating revenue from the theater, but the theater board wants to start paying down the debt, and has started a campaign to raise money to do that, hopefully within four years.
"Right now, we've been paying the monthly interest in operations revenue, so many of our campaign leaders would like to see us pay $500,000 each year to the lender so that we can start using the monthly revenue for other benefits to the theater," said Christy Rosell, director of business development and marketing.
"We have a signed contract, so this isn't something we just want to do - this is our obligation to pay it off," Rosell said.
Efforts are being made to collect $138,000 in outstanding pledges to the theater and to generate new donations from companies, foundations and residents. In addition, a major fundraiser aimed at raising $60,000 is slated, headed by Kim Gresh and Mary Karras and called "$60 Grand for the Strand."
AT&T, to name just one donor, has been quite generous, giving $50,000 for naming rights to the AT&T Box Office at the Strand.
"There has been so much community involvement with the theatre, and is a great, historic place to take in a concert, movie, or show. We want to see that continue," regional AT&T director Don Barbour said.
Meanwhile, the theater is still selling seat dedications for $1,000 each and engraved paving bricks at the entrance for $1,500 or $250.
"This has become a community center on so many levels. Couples have gotten engaged here, married here, had their first kisses here decades ago. There's just a lot of nostalgia and history here that means a lot to a lot of people," Rosell said. "In addition, we offer just about every type of arts experience from musicals to indie bands to art shows, and this community just has so much to offer in the arts. This is a community-built place and never would have happened without the community. Their support is, and will always be, extremely valuable to this theatre."
The Strand has been a huge success story for downtown Marietta. We hope local leaders, business people and residents will spare no effort to see that continue.