2015: Year in review

Happy holidays from the Hardacre Theater Preservation Association!

A year’s end is always a time to reflect, and as we prepare to ring in 2016, the HTPA board has been reflecting on a highly successful, busy 2015. A lot happened behind the scenes, while we also sponsored several events and even toured the state and the region in support of our campaign.

The Hardacre Theater will celebrate its 100th anniversary in April 2016. Our original goal was to reopen the theater by then, but laying the groundwork to raise funds and plan the theater’s reopening has taken most of our time this year.

But we’re planning on celebrating the Hardacre’s centennial in a big way. Mark your calendars for the Hardacre Century Celebration, an entertainment event to be held in Tipton Saturday evening, April 23, 2016. It’s going to be a great time, and we’ll announce details for the event in January. Watch this space for more information.

In the meantime, let’s look back on what made 2015 a pivotal year for the Hardacre Theater.

Acting on concerns we heard from the community, we scaled back our immediate plans for the Hardacre, setting our next fundraising goal to focus on reopening the Hardacre as a movie theater as soon as possible. We still plan on restoring the theater to a performing arts venue, but we will focus first on raising enough money to bring movies back to downtown Tipton.

Planning the theater’s rehabilitation has been a lot like putting together a puzzle, and we put a big puzzle piece in place this fall when we submitted and defended our application to the National Register of Historic Places. The state board approved and commended our submission—one juror called it “a slam dunk”—and sent our application to the National Parks Service. Getting on the National Register opens doors to tax credits and grant opportunities crucial to our fundraising campaign and the theater’s long-term historic standing, and we’ll get the final word on our status in early 2016.

The HTPA board added three new members in 2015: Julie Courter, Mike Brown and Dan Roberts. All three have skills and strengths vital to our cause, and we’ve been very lucky to use their service to move us forward.

We sponsored several events in 2015 to help communicate our vision for the Hardacre and what it can bring to the community. We enjoyed the return of the Guys in Ties from Rock Island’s ComedySportz improv comedy group and welcomed magician David Casas (a Muscatine native) to the Tipton stage in February. The Bucktown Revue, a Quad-Cities-based variety show styled like an old-fashioned radio broadcast, put on a stellar show in November. The Hardacre “Big Lebowski” Festival this August celebrated the comedy cult classic and drew a big audience from all over the region, most of them in costume as the film’s characters.

We were thrilled when some “organic” fundraisers, driven entirely by local residents, popped up this year. Mary and John Barnum brought the Red Cedar Chamber Music group to Tipton’s St. Mary’s Church. The group provided musical accompaniment to the Brinton Silent Film Project, a program of delightful silent films that’s currently touring the region. All proceeds went to the “Save the Hardacre” campaign. Meanwhile, Josh Meier Photography in Tipton is donating 30% of all sales from its 2016 annual calendar to the Hardacre. Go to Josh’s Facebook page to order your copy. The Hardacre board always welcomes this kind of grassroots fundraising for our cause and can’t thank these individuals enough for thinking of us.

The Hardacre Film Festival took a year off so we could focus on fundraising and publicizing our campaign. Instead, we hit the road and presented a “Best of Hardacre” program at some independent film venues and events all over the state: the Interrobang Film Festival in Des Moines, Landlocked Film Festival in Iowa City, FilmScene in Iowa City. The fact that these venues approached us to keep the festival alive during our “year off” is a real testament to the goodwill the state’s first-ever film festival has generated in Iowa.

We were also pleased to update the Tipton City Council, Tipton Rotary, and Tipton Athenaeum groups this past year. Making connections with these community leaders has been a real boon to our communication plans in 2015.

Even a few unfortunate acts of vandalism couldn’t dampen spirits surrounding the Hardacre this year. Windows in the front of the theater (a poster display, the front box office and entrance door) experienced some damage, but the vandalism received hundreds of mentions on social media and seemed to reinvigorate the community’s commitment to getting the theater up and running again. (We’re adding security measures to prevent future vandalism.)

The Hardacre’s centennial is just a few months away, and we have big goals for 2016. The only way we’ll reach them is with your help. We hope you’ll consider a tax-deductible year-end donation to the “Save the Hardacre” campaign (see our website or contact us for details) and that you’ll join the cause in 2016 by donating some time, money, room on your social media, coffee talk—whatever you can give us to give the Hardacre a very happy birthday.

See you in 2016!