Busy construction site
SCT not quite ready for its close-up
Like the distinguished Hollywood starlet who wants to prolong her career, the Spencer Community Theatre building has gone in for a nip here and a tuck there.
The region's theater fans can expect to see better performances from the ol' girl as a result.
"This, I think will really kick things up a notch and really make this a premiere performing arts facility for northwest Iowa," said Connie Goeken, executive director for SCT. "We think that we will be able to expand our programming yet again. We'll have the space to do that."
Steel beams were going up Thursday morning as the shell of the expanded area begins to take shape. The cool, soggy October put a crimp in the project time line -- construction crews couldn't complete some cement work. Construction will continue throughout the winter. The goal of the contractor is to have all of the building actually enclosed by March.
"We got set back just a little bit with the bad weather this fall, but not a tremendous amount," Goeken said. "Nothing that's worrisome right now, but the rain prevented a lot."
Once the shell is up, concrete can be poured on the interior. Goeken thinks contractors will be able to recover from the weather-induced delays in time for the planned re-opening in October.
"We thought we might be in there a little earlier -- in September -- so we could have a grand opening," Goeken said. "I'm not saying that still won't happen, but our architect has told us that, when you are about three or four months out from what had been the planned completion date, you can tell, pretty accurately at that point, where you're at."
Spencer Community Theatre began an extensive renovation and expansion in early fall to enhance the performance and viewing experiences for guests.
The $1.5 million project will include a new lobby and larger restrooms. The new multipurpose room is designed with workshops and receptions in mind.
Audiences will enjoy better lighting and sound. Performers will have a bigger stage. A better working space for set construction also is in the works.
The building will have a better street presence on the First Avenue East side of the building as well.
An expansion had been discussed for years, but the generous donation of $500,000 from the Dvergsten Charitable Foundation allowed those ambitions to become a reality.
"That's really when the intense planning on our part started to happen," Goeken said. "We'd been doing some long-range planning before that. It did include enlarging our theater, but when that money became available, that really was the impetus for us to really put together a concrete plan."
Goeken also credited an "outstanding" board of directors as well as a staff who stepped up in a year when their performances have been relocated.
"We're very spoiled because we have our facility," Goeken said. "Many, many community theaters around the state and nation don't have a permanent home and they have to perform wherever there's space. They face the challenges all of the time that we're facing now, which is rehearsing in one space, which isn't our own, then moving everything into another space, which isn't our own."
The executive director expects to have a good idea of the completion date in late spring.
"I'm going to be walking around pinching myself when it finally gets open and we've got it done," Goeken said. "It's really going to take us to the next step in our theater's development."