Olathe Civic Theatre Association | Building Update: Phase One Improvements Complete in Time for VIOLET!
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Building Update: Phase One Improvements Complete in Time for VIOLET!

28 Jan Building Update: Phase One Improvements Complete in Time for VIOLET!

When you volunteer to be involved in a community theatre, you usually have ideas of performing, producing, and designing shows and special events, or ushering, selling tickets, and helping with the occasional clean-up day or fundraiser. The furthest thing from your mind is inheriting a historic building (built in 1870) and teaching yourself how to not only maintain it so that it is safe and beautiful for all, but also learning how to raise the level of funding it takes to make said maintenance and updates happen on a regular basis. About every 10-20 years, whoever comprises the OCTA board at that time must solve this part of the puzzle that is … owning your own building.


 Theatre walls and ceiling underwent repairs prior to repainting

Quietly over the past two seasons (or more), the board has been making plans and preparations for all the work you are about to see. At an annual retreat two years ago, the group had the first conversation about the scope of the project.  Last year, the group inventoried critical repairs the building needed and then brainstormed a list of updates that would bring the facility’s appearance into the current decade. After:

– prioritizing the projects,

– obtaining quotes,

– setting a fundraising goal,

– creating a timeline,

– learning how to research and apply for grants,

– trying out new fundraising events,

– establishing an annual giving program to help fund other aspects of the theatre while this work occurs, and

– strengthening many other arts administration best practices to ensure a bright future,

the group was then ready to apply for funding to help with phase one of these repairs.

In August of 2017, OCTA received a major five-figure grant from The Sunderland Foundation for the most urgent repairs. Not only did it help to kick-off the work that was needed, but it helped to validate several years’ worth of preparation and planning our all-volunteer board undertook while maintaining day-to-day operations and the annual slate of productions and special events. Another anonymous funder offered a $10,000 matching grant to help raise funds for other  projects that were occurring at the same time, which our patrons very generously met!



Along with some serious elbow-grease from board members and volunteers, as well as great winter pricing from some very kind contractors and vendors, to date we’ve been able to complete the following in time for VIOLET, our first production of 2018, which runs February 9-25:

Repaired foundation wall in dressing area

– replacement of handrails at the front of the building,

– repair of the crumbling west foundation wall (in the dressing room areas),

– replacement of the basement windows on the west foundation wall,

– replacement of the make-up counters and carpet in the dressing areas,

– replacement of the sinks and shelving in the paint room,

– repair and repainting of deteriorating plaster and panels on the proscenium arch, walls, and ceiling in the theatre,

– refinishing the hardwood floors in front of the stage,

recarpeting of the lobby and theatre,

Board members Rita Marks and Ted Collins with volunteer Courtney Koval installing the new-to-us seats from Olathe North High School.

repainting of the lobby and upstairs bathrooms,

– replacement of the bathroom, office, and concessions flooring,

– repair of deterioration in select stained glass windows,

– replacement of  the theatre seating with new-to-us seats gifted to us from Olathe North High School,

– replacement of concessions lighting,

– and many other smaller projects that became apparent after the major work had begun.




OCTA is located in one of the oldest buildings in Olathe, the former Reformed Presbyterian Church, built in 1870.

Much still needs to happen, and we’re in the final stretch of this batch of repairs and updates. Phase two consists primarily of outdoor work such as repainting (or siding) the exterior of the building, resurfacing (possibly replacing) the parking lot, replacing the last two (of five) HVAC units, and more.  Our goal is to raise the remaining funds and complete this work before our 2018-2019 season opens at the end of this summer/early fall. At this time, approximately $60,000 is left to raise for phase two. Our board is hard at work applying for grants to cover this and will make further appeals to patrons who have not yet contributed. Once these two phases are complete, we’ll regroup and review several aspirational projects that are also on the list that will help to improve the patron and creative team experience (lovingly called “Phase three”).

To those who have already contributed with donations, discounts, in-kind work, guidance, and time, you have our heartfelt thanks and endless gratitude. If you would like to make a gift, please visit our Support page to learn how, or write our Treasurer, Peter Leondedis at pgleondedis@yahoo.com with questions.  It’s an exciting time for OCTA and we’d love to have you help us protect one of the oldest buildings in Olathe!


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