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Sioux Falls State Theatre

John Swedeen, president
State Theatre Company Board

Plans for the next, crucial phase of fundraising to complete the restoration of the State Theatre are shaping up nicely.

The Board of the State Theatre Company has assembled an A Team of talent to help with strategy, marketing and implementation of the campaign, which we hope will be the final fundraising drive needed to finish the renovation and reopen the magnificent building.

Most recently, we added Kirby Schultz to our team. Kirby is the president of HenkinSchultz Creative Services, one of the most experienced and prestigious marketing firms in the Sioux Falls area.

Kirby is the Schultz in the name of the company. He been a cornerstone of the Sioux Falls agency’s brand for more than 25 years and brings more than 40 years of marketing experience to our campaign. He is helping us formulate a creative and effective messaging strategy.

As I noted in a previous column, we also have retained Brian Bonde, a national expert and highly regarded professional fundraiser from Sioux Falls, to help implement the campaign. Brian has been helping organizations in the nonprofit sector raise money and train leaders for more than 30 years. He is helping us put together a good fundraising plan.

Rob Swenson of Rob Swenson Media Services also is a valuable part of our team. He has been helping us get out news about the State for more than a year. Rob worked more than 30 years as a reporter and editor with the Argus Leader and Sioux Falls Business Journal before setting out on his own a few years ago.

Our only full-time employee, Allison Weiland, joined the State Theatre staff in April as development coordinator. Allison’s duties go beyond assisting with the campaign. Her experience in business, education and the arts help keep the company organized and operating smoothly on a day-to-day basis.

For advice on building design, we also get help from a national expert in historic restoration projects: Don Hirsch of Vermont-based Don Hirsch Design Studio LLC. His firm has experience in similar restoration projects around the country.

As the president of the nonprofit State Theatre Company, I get a lot of the public attention. But I want to point out that the State Theatre Board of Directors is comprised of nine other volunteers who are working hard behind the scenes to get the historic State renovated and reopened. Voting members of the Board, in addition to me, are:

  • Jennifer Sherman, vice president
  • Stacy Newcomb-Weiland, past president
  • Jennifer Warren, treasurer
  • Liz Wheeler, secretary
  • Bruce Eide
  • Patti Abdallah
  • Marcia Halberstadt
  • Dave Melemseter
  • Joe Batcheller

In recent years, fundraising and construction to restore the State have never really stopped. More than $3.5 million has been raised and spent to repair infrastructure and begin restoration work on the 91-year-old treasure. We still have a lot of interior work to do, however.

With help from our marketing team, the Board will be reaching out more visibly in coming months to prospective donors. Our goal is to raise at least $5.5 million. Raising that kind of money requires a detailed, professional process, even in a community as generous as Sioux Falls.

An exact timeline for the next phase of campaign is being worked out. At this point, our priority is to do the job right. We don’t want to jump ill-prepared into such an important phase in the history of the State Theatre and downtown Sioux Falls.

There’s still a lot of work left to do, but it will be worthwhile. Reopening the State will be an economic and social milestone for the community. With the help of community input, we’ve got a great vision in place for reusing the historic State Theatre. We’ve also got a great team in place to help us reach our objective.

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