Skip to main content

Cabarrus Magazine

Old Courthouse Theatre Receives Grants, Gets to Work on Improvements

Jun 30, 2017 04:09PM ● By Melanie Heisinger

Courtesy of the Old Courthouse Theatre Facebook page

Recently, the Old Courthouse Theater was approved for several different grants, and has been making improvements ever since.

It started with a re-paving of the parking lot, something that has been put on the back burner for a while but was desperately needed. What's next? Mary Kathryn Ewart, OCT's President of the Board of Directors, filled us in on all the details. 

I heard that you were recently awarded a grant, congratulations! Tell us a little bit about that process and how it's been.

OCT has received several grants this year. While the grant writing process can be challenging, it forces the organization to be clear about its needs.

OCT also utilized free resources through the Small Business Administration to assess what is working and what is not working within the business structure of the organization.

What are some of the things the money will go towards?

The Grassroots Grant is applied to production costs – script and music royalties, set construction materials, costume materials, contract labor, etc. Typically, a musical costs between $15,000 and $20,000 to produce. A non-musical (play) costs between $8,000 and $10,000 to produce. The Grassroots Grant helps to offset these production costs, so that OCT can keep our ticket prices affordable for families.

The other grants received were for specific projects and those funds can only be used for those projects. These grants focused on capital improvements, specifically our historic facility. In the past 12 months, OCT has repaired the roof on both buildings, installed a new Stormwater Drainage system on both buildings, and resurfaced the parking lot.

What's one improvement that you are most excited about? How about the most useful?

I’m excited about all of it, because these improvements have been needed for years. What inspired me was Lizzie Kunesh remodeling the cast dressing rooms for her Gold Star project for Girl Scouts. She demonstrated how important it is to give back in community theatre – for it takes the community to keep the theatre alive.

What can we expect come the next show?

Well with a name like “Disaster”….. Seriously though, expect to have fun. You’ll definitely remember the music, even if you want to forget the clothes styles. Also, OCT’s production of “Disaster!” will be the North Carolina state premier! Make sure to return to OCT for each production this season. All of the directors for next season are new to the OCT stage so they will bring fresh talent to their productions. 

Tell us a little bit about the Annual Meeting and Awards Celebration last week. How did it go?

It’s always wonderful to reunite with everyone from each production. Sometimes, it’s been just a few weeks, as in the case of “The Music Man”. Other times, like with “Dixie Swim Club” and “Deathtrap”, several productions have occurred since those shows closed. It’s also a special time to celebrate the hard work these actors, designers, and tech crew apply to each production.

What was the most memorable moment of the evening?

Seeing the support each one of these artists gives to one another. Yes, there’s a bit of disappointment, and that’s human nature. These artists support one another, and that’s not only memorable, but inspiring.

What is OCT focusing on?

OCT is focusing on ‘improving the experience’ for its patrons and artists. While the new parking lot is a “BAM in your face” kind of improvement, others such as changing online ticket systems are not as noticeable. We’re looking at everything – from the sound and lighting for productions, to front-of-house operations, to even signage. We want our supporters to receive the best possible experience they can when they visit OCT.

Are there any other shows we should know about?

The annual 10-Minute Play Festival will be held offsite as a change. This year’s theme, “Something’s Brewing” coincides with Cabarrus Brewing Company serving as the location host for the August event.

OCT will partner with Royal Oaks Elementary School starting in the 2017 – 2018 school year. Instead of competing with the many drama camps in the community, OCT is partnering with Royal Oaks to develop a program that focuses on education while also exposing students all aspects of theatre – not just appearing on stage. It’s possible we could expand this program to other schools and additional grade levels. We are excited because this program will be a unique way to expose youth theatre to the community.

OCT is a 501c3 nonprofit organization, and donations are tax deductible. These donations can be assigned to a specific project or to general needs. Please contact OCT at 704-788-2405 or [email protected] for additional information. 

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Cabarrus Magazine's free newsletter to catch every headline