Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Arts Council launches $241k drive to finish youth "ARTitorium"

Architect Keith Kennedy's rendering of the floor plan of the "ARTitorium on Broadway," once the Rio Theater. To learn more about the plans, follow this link: ARTitorium

The Idaho Falls Arts Council started a fund-raising drive this morning to raise $241,000, the amount it says it needs to reach its goal for remodeling the old Rio Theater into the "ARTitorium on Broadway."

A group of anonymous challenge grant donors have promised a matching amount but set a Sept. 30 deadline on the effort. If the money is raised, the combined $482,000 will allow the Arts Council to spend $1.53 million on the facility and have it open by late summer 2014.

The drive has been named the “Phantom 2.0 Challenge,” in reference to a similar challenge grant campaign in the 1990s to finish the Miles and Virginia Willard Arts Center

The plan is for a technology-driven arts center for youth, a tourist attraction, and a great step forward in downtown revitalization. The plans for the main floor include interactive art stations, including a lighted motion wall, virtual art gallery, gigantic magnetic wall, computerized animation kiosk and life-size green screen. Most of the interactive art stations are being developed by Protozone Interactives, whose clients include The National Museum of Art, The San Francisco Exploratorium and The National Museum of Science and Industry.

The second floor, once the Rio's balcony, is to be renovated into a 170-seat performing arts theater and recording studio.

The $241,000 gift is being donated by a small group of arts supporters who will reveal their identities once the matching funds are raised. While the deadline is Sept. 30, pledges can be paid over a multi-annual period.

“Despite having gone through the worst recession since the Depression, the Arts Council had already successfully raised over $1 million towards this project," said Carrie Getty Scheid, who is co-chairing the challenge grant fund-raising with Mary Lynn Hartwell. Anyone interested in making a pledge or donation should contact Scheid at cscheid@Q.com or (208) 206-9506. Donations also can be mailed to the Idaho Falls Arts Council, 498 A Street, Idaho Falls, ID  83402.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I, Paul Menser, was the Phantom of the Colonial in the 1990s and was asked to reprise the role for this funding effort. Here are the parody lyrics that finally came to me around 3:45 this morning, which I sang from the balcony a few hours later to a warm if not exactly thunderous reception:
Me, as the Phantom. Pretty slick, huh?

(To the tune of "Music of the Night")

Everybody likes their children smart
That's why every kid needs lots of art
Painting, dance and song make the day a lot less long
Is it too much to be offering them some?
So dig deep for the ARTitorium.

This old place has been sitting vacant long enough
Don't you think we could show a little pride
If we did something nice with it inside?
('Course I'd have to find another place to hide.)

We're all crazy if we do not do this.
Don't make me think you're completely clueless.
Show me you've got taste; don't let this chance go to waste
I don't want to have to wait till kingdom come
So dig deep for the ARTitorium.

I asked the TV reporters who were there to send me video of this performance. If that happens, and I like what I see, I will post it. This is the age of YouTube and social media, after all.