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When the State Theatre reopens in 2020, guests are bound to be impressed whether they come to see a first-run, classic or art movie.

The $3.5 million gift pledged by philanthropist T. Denny Sanford to help restore the first-floor auditorium area also is enabling the Theatre to buy recliners, and high-end projection and sound equipment to provide guests with a top-notch, entertainment experience.

Example of the seating that will be available at the State Theatre

Work underway will reopen the first floor of the beautiful, downtown landmark, which will be a long-awaited community milestone.

However, fundraising will have to continue to renovate the second and third floors. We need at least another $2.5 million to restore public space on the upper levels, including the balcony.

Fundraising will not stop until we have raised enough to finish the restoration of the entire building.


View of the balcony pre-construction

Our vision for restoring the upper levels includes:

  • Renovating the balcony to hold approximately 150 seats, plus luxury loge sections, booths and loveseats.
  • Restoring the mezzanine-level restrooms and lobby area.
  • Creating a micro-cinema with approximately 30 seats. The space would provide the Theatre a screening room and enable it to show a wider variety of programing.
  • Fixing up concession space, gathering area and a bar on the second floor.
  • Developing a conference room and offices. That space would that would be available for rent for business meetings and social events.

Additional funding also would help the State Theatre serve the community through means such as providing free tours, creating educational programming and giving movie tickets to underprivileged youths.

The journey to reopen the State has made tremendous progress during the past few years. The State opened in 1926 as the city’s nicest, state-of-the-art theatre. It thrived for decades, but closed in 1991 and slid into a state of deterioration.

Groups such as the Sioux Falls Film Society and Downtown Sioux Falls Inc. rallied to save the building from possible demolition. It wasn’t easy. A leaky roof had to be replaced, for example, and infrastructure had to be stabilized.  Eventually work expanded to renovating the first-floor lobby, foyer and bathrooms.

In recent years, the nonprofit The Sioux Falls State Theatre Co. has been entrusted with fundraising responsibilities and the job of overseeing the restoration. As Board President John Swedeen has said, we have moved into the fun parts of the project. People can see progress being made, such as the trim and doors being replaced on the façade of the building.

The pace of the remaining work is tied to the pace of fundraising, so we continue to need your help!

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