By Ryan Cornell
NEW MARKET -- As the Schultz Theatre and School of Performing Arts prepares to host "The Wizard of Oz," a recent grant has theater volunteers feeling over the rainbow.
The theater received $2,000 in funds through a $1,000 local government challenge grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and a matching $1,000 donation from the town.
Brittany Clem, event and marketing director for New Market, presented the $2,000 check to representatives from the theater at Monday's Town Council meeting. She recognized the "happiness and vitality" brought to the town by the theater and the hard work and determination in its revitalization efforts.
Joanne Thompson, treasurer of the theater's board of directors, said the grant came as a pleasant surprise.
"Honestly, we got an email from Ms. Clem last week, I believe, asking if we could have representatives here," she said after the council meeting. "We knew we were receiving a check as a result of the grant, but we had no idea what the amount was."
The Schultz Theatre received an identical grant last year for $1,000 that was used to purchase black stage curtains.
Thompson said the board will brainstorm ideas for the best use of this year's grant money.
"There's so much we can do," she said. "We have floor issues we could take care of, we have lighting issues that could be improved upon. There's so much."
Located at 9357 N. Congress St., the theater building was constructed for $3,500 in 1901 as New Market's town hall, housing the town offices, police department, fire department and council chambers. In October 2010, the theater was started by Michael Gwin and Rainier Vidale. Today, the theater comfortably seats 120 patrons and hosts three to four musicals a year in addition to its plays.
Councilman Tim Palmer said he and his wife regularly attend shows at the Schultz Theatre.
"We meet people, we talk to them," he said. "They're not just from New Market, they come from all around the area, a long way out from Winchester, different parts of Northern Virginia. They come out just to the Schultz Theatre to see the performance and then go back to wherever they live."
Thompson said the board has applied for 501c3 status and hopes to hear back by the end of the year.
The Schultz Theatre will host "The Wizard of Oz" beginning Aug. 15. The musical will run for three weekends, at 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. on Sundays.
For more information, visit the theater's website at schultztheatre.com
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org