ELDON — The American Gothic Performing Arts Festival, in conjunction with the McHaffey Opera House in Eldon, has given new life to stage curtains reclaimed from the Ottumwa Coliseum prior to its demolition.
“When we began to discuss how to create an appropriate theatrical environment in the developing space, opera board members said that they had some old draperies in storage that they had rescued from the Ottumwa Coliseum,” said Miriam Kenning, festival board secretary and stage director for the upcoming show in Eldon. “It was tremendous to see this treasure from the past and know we could help make it useful once again.”
Working with Mike Swallow at Ottumwa Tent and Awning, the large draperies were sized, fitted, aired and cleaned prior to installation on the opera house stage by volunteers from both opera house and festival boards.
Dennis Willhoit, president and musical director for the festival, said that this type of collaborative support for revitalization or improvement of the area venues is a primary goal of the organization.
“We want to leave the venues in which we perform better off than when we arrive so that the entire community can benefit,” he said. “If we have a production need that supports a venue’s infrastructure beyond our festival production, then it needs to stay at the venue so that everyone can use it instead of locking it away for the following summer.”
The volunteers completed the McHaffey Opera House drapery project just in time for the Cardinal School’s Parade of Bands Concert held this week.
“It’s great to know that already the drapery installation has served the community,” said Willhoit.