Proposal: Convert the Pendleton Bank Building into a thriving downtown "live" theatre venue.
Intro and background - Friends of the Opera House:
The Friends of the Opera House has a long-standing reputation as a prominent Eastern Oregon theatre arts company. Residing in the Elgin Opera House, Friends of the Opera House produces six to eight live productions each year and manages an award-winning youth theater education program.
Inspired by a 2006 visit to Elgin, OR, Terry Hale moved his family to Elgin to revitalize the Historic Elgin Opera House. Terry went to work with a cadre of volunteers and artists to create a nonprofit theater company to bring to life the long-vacant Opera House.
Since 2007, with the leadership of Executive Artistic Director, Terry Hale, The Friends of the Opera House has produced over 60 successful Main Stage productions, drawing audiences from all over the Northwest. See a sample of our work.
Additionally, The Friends of the Opera House theater company hosts youth theater programs allowing young actors the opportunity to experience many aspects of the performing arts, from acting, set design, costume design, choreography, vocal training, and incredible performance opportunities.
Five years ago, Terry Hale established the Opera House Youth Actors (OYHA) an advanced performing arts group for youth who desire a more immersive experience. Since its inception, this group has received national recognition for its performances at the National Junior Theater Festival. A few of the awards include: Best Youth Choreographer, Best Performance by an Individual, All Festival Best Male Actor, Outstanding Ensemble Award, and the highest festival award two years in a row for Outstanding Performance.
The Elgin Opera House is a place where the community comes together to experience the joy of performance for both the actors and the audience.
Over the years, the Friends of the Opera House has expanded its actor base to include actors from six Eastern Oregon counties. Many of these actors are joining from Pendleton Oregon, where there is high interest in performing arts experiences.
In 2018, Terry was hired as the theatre arts instructor at Blue Mt Community College in Pendleton where he is currently the head of the theater program. He has directed several productions at the Bob Clapp theater on the BMCC campus.
Terry's work at BMCC helped him to recognize the need for more live theater in Pendleton, and in 2021 Terry officially announced his intention to expand the Friends of the Opera House theatre programming to downtown Pendleton and began working with Steve Chrisman at Pendleton Economic Development to find the perfect location.
In the Summer of 2021, Steve gave Terry a tour of the Bank Building and he instantly fell in love with the venue.
Recently, Terry revisited the building with his administrative and technical staff to introduce the space and discuss the possibilities. After the tour, the entire staff concluded that this space would perfectly meet the needs of a downtown theater and create an iconic performing arts venue to serve Pendleton for years to come.
What we need to make it happen:
First and foremost, we will need a generous donation from Jordan Schnitzer to help us obtain ownership of the building.
Second, we will need generous support from the Pendleton Development Commission (PDC) to help us with a few needed upgrades to get the building ready for patrons.
Third, The Friends of the Opera House staff and volunteers will descend on the space to prepare all the artistic elements needed to mount a fabulous production.
The Friends of the Opera House are currently staffed with a full-time Executive Artistic Director, a full-time Executive Assistant/Facilities Manager, and a full-time Technical Director. Each of these individuals has the knowledge and experience to manage the facility efficiently. The utilities, insurance, janitorial, and general maintenance would all be easily managed by the Friends of the Opera House. The Friends of the Opera House also has a robust group of volunteers to help with all aspects of development.
Desired improvements from PDC
Tiered seating for approximately 250-300 seats.
A stage area that would include lighting, sound, and other related production infrastructure.
Lower level ADA restroom facilities.
Improvements for a concessions area and artistic lobby.
Our intent is to seek funds from the Pendleton Development Commission & Urban Rewenal grants to make the investment in their city to cover the costs of improving the space.
Rough cost estimate for improvements:
ADA Bathrooms & Concessions: $75K - 150K
HVAC $50K - $150K
Light, sound, and tech: 75K
Much of the cost will be determined by the complexity of the plumbing required for the ADA restrooms and the current state of the HVAC system.
We would like to seek help from Jordan Schnitzer and his organization to fund the outside signage including the new marquee.
A new live theater venue in downtown Pendleton would bring thousands of patrons to the heart of downtown Pendleton. Theatergoers are a sought-after demographic of consumers, as they are generally established individuals with discretionary income to spend on food and entertainment. They are loyal to a venue and will travel hundreds of miles for a quality theatrical experience.
Estimated annual attendance, after we are established, for 5 to 6 mainstage shows per year, 5 scheduled showings per week for a 5-week run would generate an audience of about 3000 to 5000 per production or 20,000 to 37,000 visitors to Pendleton downtown every year, all year round.
Actors, staff, and crew will meet in the building 5 to 7 days per week to rehearse and construct the upcoming productions, bringing 50 to 100 actors and support staff into the downtown daily.
We anticipate many more visitors to the downtown as parents and students attend studio classes and workshops.
Projected annual income from ticket sales:
1st year: $180K
2nd year: $275K
3rd year: $300K
Projected annual income from studio/camps/education:
1st year: $30K
2nd year: $50K
3rd year: $60K
Projected annual income dollars from donations, grants, etc:
1st year: $30K
2nd year: $75K
3rd year: $100K
Other Administrative: $15K
Production Expenses: $100K
Many staffing and production expenses will be offset by combining resources with the program already established in Elgin.
The building will be used a minimum of 6 days per week as we are constantly in rehearsal and construction for the next show. We should include the 75 to 100 actors and support staff that it takes to put up a show into those figures. Our research shows that over 50% of those patrons could come from outside of Pendleton.
The Friends of the Opera House are eager to add our theatrical production expertise to the Pendleton downtown corridor. We have a proven program and management team that will easily adapt to a second location.
Please reach out to Terry Hale with any questions regarding the possibilities. We are eager to get started as soon as possible.
Terry Hale - Executive Artistic Director
Kathy Bonney - Executive Assistant
Mark Seder of Seder Architecture drafted a concept for converting the building to a theater. These renderings are not final and are for concept purposes only.
Here is what seating in the new theater could look like