News Column

$2 million more sought for Findlay arts center

August 4, 2014

By Vanessa McCray, The Blade, Toledo, Ohio



Aug. 04--FINDLAY -- A performing arts center slated to open in downtown Findlay in fall, 2015, has garnered more than $13 million from private and corporate donors, and now has a public phase of the campaign seeking to raise another $2 million.

The Marathon Center for the Performing Arts will incorporate the art-deco facade of the former Central Middle School auditorium at 200 W. Main Cross St., near the heart of the Hancock County city's downtown district.

Construction work is under way on a 1,000-seat, 55,000-square-foot venue, which will feature a grand entrance and lobby, art gallery, classroom space, a multipurpose room to accommodate a black-box theater, dressing rooms, and a green room. Findlay City Schools sold the 1940s-era auditorium site for $1 to the Hancock County Performing Arts Center, the nonprofit leading the effort to preserve portions of the auditorium and transform it into a new center to stage musical, theatrical, dance, and other entertainment.

The group's fund-raising goal is $17 million, including an endowment to support the center. It recently kicked off the public portion of the campaign.

Marathon Petroleum Corp. is the leading donor, though the Fortune 500 company in Findlay did not disclose the amount.

Marathon officials could not be reached to be interviewed about the project, but in a written statement, spokesman Brandon Daniels said it illustrates the company's commitment to the region.

"Our support of this center will help to further arts education and cultural programs in the area," he said. "Additionally, the economic success of Hancock County directly impacts our business. Having our headquarters located in a vibrant, energetic city helps us attract and retain employees."

Findlay residents travel to Toledo, Cleveland, Akron, and Fort Wayne, Ind., to see the kind of performances the new center will offer, said Ed Reading, arts center board chairman.

"Our downtown is experiencing a revitalization," he said.

Marathon is adding two office buildings as part of an estimated $80 million expansion project expected to be finished in two to three years. Just blocks from the arts center site, two other downtown properties -- the Davis Building and the Knights of Columbus building -- were awarded a total of $325,000 in state historic preservation tax credits in June for a commercial office and residential project.

Findlay City Schools and the University of Findlay will use the venue for student productions and events, Mr. Reading said. The private university will provide security and maintenance services for the center, which is larger than its campus theater, though that facility will continue to be used, said President Katherine Fell.

"We are very excited about the cultural strengths that this center will bring to this city and to the region," she said.

RCM Architects Inc. of Findlay designed the building.

Space for arts education programming, weddings, and small conventions will be available. An exterior wall will allow the center to show movies outside or set up a temporary stage for outdoor performances.

"We really want to try to be all things to all people," Mr. Reading said.

Contact Vanessa McCray at: vmccray@theblade.com or 419-724-6065, or on Twitter @vanmccray.

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(c)2014 The Blade (Toledo, Ohio)

Visit The Blade (Toledo, Ohio) at www.toledoblade.com

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Source: Blade (Toledo, OH)


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