TOPEKA – The Jayhawk Theatre was awarded a Heritage Trust Fund grant in the amount of $54,240 Feb. 18. The theater was one of 24 projects throughout the state recommended for grant monies by the committee of the Kansas Historic Sites Board of Review. The funds will be used for repair and revision work on the theater’s fly gallery roof and main theater roof.
“There were 24 projects that were awarded this year and the Jayhawk was one of the few to be fully funded,” said Katrina Ringler, grants manager at the Kansas State Historical Society. “It’s a beautiful building that has a lot of potential to have a rehabilitation that will benefit the city of Topeka and the state.”
The Jayhawk Theatre, built in 1926 and a National and State Historical site, requires $9 million for full restoration and renovation. The Jayhawk’s board of directors has raised over $600,000 over the past 15 years, utilizing those funds for infrastructural improvements.
The lengthy project has picked up speed in recent months with new board appointments, sizeable grants with the City of Topeka’s Historic Sites for Heritage Tourism grant in the amount of $42,400 last November, and the recent Heritage Trust Fund grant. The board of directors aims to complete the project by Dec. 2013.
Doug Jones, co-owner of JQ Historic Properties and past president of the Shawnee County Historical Society is the new president of the Jayhawk board of directors.
“I’m thrilled to become the president, and there’s exciting new momentum. This thing is starting to roll,” said Jones. “We have an aggressive fundraising campaign that is ready to kick into higher gear.”
Jeff Carson, co-owner of Gizmo Pictures, Inc., is the new vice president.
“The excitement about downtown, with the capitol renovations and other areas of revitalization really bode well for our project and our new team. We have a lot of work to do, and we’re rolling up our sleeves, but we’re all looking forward to the opening of the theater,” said Carson.
The Jayhawk board of directors plans to raise the remainder of the funds necessary for construction to begin through a combination of sources: corporations, foundations, individuals, further grant opportunities and through several types of tax credit tools.
“We want to make the Jayhawk the crown jewel of downtown development,” said Jones.
Once complete, the theater will seat audiences of up to 900 people and provide live theatre and music, film and other arts events as well as providing meeting space for business and recreational needs.
The board is seeking volunteers from the community to participate in theater cleanup efforts, office work, event planning and historical research. Interested members of the community are urged to get in contact with board president Doug Jones.