Those who are working to bring new life to the old State Theatre building in South Bend are poised to mark some milestones.
The property was sold in December of 2011 to Banko Capital. After work on the sprinkler and alarm systems, it appears that the State is finally on track to receive its occupancy permit and to hold its first public event.
“It’s our first event. It’s called Ignite Michiana. It’s a series of five minute talks about innovation and sustainability in the area, so if you’re ever familiar with a TED event or a TEDx event, it’s very much like that,” said State General Manager Drew Elegante. Ignite Michiana has been scheduled for March 28th. Tickets are $10.
The State Theatre will be hosting a variety of events that it has never hosted before, to see which ones catch on with the public. “What are the things we absolutely need to do to have, what are our quick wins, what is the low hanging fruit,” said Elegante.
After all, it’s unlikely that the theatre would come back to life for long by doing the same things that put it out of business in the past.
“It’s a massive project but I don't see it as a profit project,” said theatre owner Assaf Dagan. “I see it more like to give back to the community something.”
The high premium on public input means that the bank will be skipped when it comes to bankrolling the next phase of capital improvements.
The State Theatre will embark on a crowd funding campaign. “It’s a way of accessing capital by actually going to the customers who are going to use your product directly,” said Elegante. “So you set up a web page, you tell your story, you talk about what is it you want to do, what the goals are, how much money you need and what you're going to do with it, and then you allow people to contribute or participate in your campaign by purchasing what they call rewards.”
The new owner will match every dollar raised through internet crowd funding up to $50,000.
“To have the State Theatre in this shape right now, I mean, after a huge great history, it’s kind of a shame,” said Assaf. “We need to give back, you know, we need to bring it back to life.”
The unusual business model even includes a partnership with the University of Notre Dame that has 30-student volunteers working on the State Theatre project this semester.
“I don’t want to do stupid things and it’s very important to me to get the feedback as much as possible from the community because whatever I think that, in my vision it can be--something completely else later on that the community wants to do with it,” said Dagan.