DIXON – The Dixon Historic Theatre is asking the city for $200,000 to help set it on a new and more productive path.
Tim Boles, president of the nonprofit Historic Dixon Theatre Group, which runs the theater at 114 S. Galena Ave., spoke to the City Council on Tuesday, detailing an ambitious next few years that would be possible with the city’s donation, which would be split between booking acts and funding new community programs, private funding and a community capital campaign.
Not only will the theater help generate revenue and business for the city, but it also will be a driver to bring the community together following the coronavirus pandemic, Boles said.
“I think it’s not just about the theater being an economic engine,” he said. “I think it’s a powerful engine to help people feel better about Dixon coming out of this, and it will bring people together after this long time.”
Featured acts the theater would like to land include Franc D’Ambrosio, the Broadway actor known for playing the Phantom in “Phantom of the Opera,” and famed jazz pianist and vocalist Judy Carmichael, who would have a 3-week residency in Dixon and emcee the theater’s 100th anniversary in March 2022.
Higher-profile performances usually need at least a year of advance scheduling and half of the fee up front, Boles said.
Other acts would include the Chicago Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and the one-woman show “Bette Davis Ain’t for Sissies.”
Tribute bands still would be booked, and the group also is looking into social programs, a children’s theater program, and outdoor theater performances, Boles said.
The next community theater production would be “A Christmas Carol.”
The group also wants to share staff with Dixon Stage Left, and draw interns from universities.
Council members were supportive of the idea, and Mayor Li Arellano Jr. said growing the theater would benefit the region and promote creativity in community members.
The $200,000 would need to be approved in the city’s budget, which begins May 1.
Plans to get more use out of the theater and raise its profile started in 2016, following about 2 years of confusion as to whether it was owned by nonprofit Dixon Theatre Renovation Inc. or the county. The city, county and nonprofit entered into a partnership in 2017 to create a new group that will take on ownership and decisions for the nearly century-old theater.
Historic Dixon Theatre Group replaced DTRI in 2019, rebranding the Historic Dixon Theatre as The Dixon: Historic Theatre, but new programming was delayed because of COVID-19.