Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Georgia Trust partners with the Georgia Theatre

Story by Jamie Gumbrecht, Access Atlanta

Georgia Theatre owner Wilmot Greene sent a list of (mostly) upbeat news about how the music venue is coming together since it was gutted by a fire in June.

The biggest news, he said, is that they can now accept donations through the non-profit Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, which means donations are tax deductible. Want to toss some cash in? Send your contribution to The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, Attn: Kate Ryan, 1516 Peachtree St. N.W., Atlanta, GA 30309. Write “The Georgia Theatre Rehabilitation Fund” in the memo line. Online donation forms should be available online within the week, too.

UPDATE: The Georgia Trust often partners with groups trying to rehab certain buildings, but this is the first time it has partnered with a for-profit entity in this way, said Mark McDonald, the president and chief executive of the Trust. He told me Wednesday that Greene approached the Trust shortly after the fire about channeling donations through them. Trust representatives decided it was “well within the Trust’s mission” to help preserve the building.

“It’s benefiting the Georgia Theatre, the public, downtown Athens and the musical culture of Athens,” McDonald said. “It was a critical need. Without some kind of subsidy, we’d have the demolition of the facade.”

McDonald said any donations coming in earmarked for The Georgia Theatre Rebuilding Fund will be placed in a restricted account. When construction begins, bills submitted to the Trust will be paid from that account.

Greene’s note included several other updates, too, but the only part that seemed less than excited: “Initial construction estimates are coming in and are quite scary.”

Here are more updates about the beloved venue where the Athens music scene grew:

  • Bracing and stabilization plans were recently approved by by Athens officials, so demolition can start.
  • They’ve got architects and “plans are looking GREAT!”
  • Big benefit shows are in the works, but Greene said they’re not announcing anything yet. Still, has a steady list of benefits and volunteer events to help the theater rebuild.
  • The theater has formed an alliance with University of Georgia’s music business program. Greene said they’ll help the theater raise money, and when they’ve rebuilt, they’ll pledge money back to the school. The theater had hired a lot of their graduates before, and helped them land jobs with national touring acts every year. Also very cool: “We plan on emphasizing our educational component and including space for training facilities in the new interior.”

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