The Ottumwa Courier

Ottumwa

March 12, 2014

Transforming the theaters

OTTUMWA — A plan is beginning to take shape for the Capri and Capitol theaters in downtown Ottumwa.

The Ottumwa Regional Legacy Foundation has purchased the historic buildings at the corner of Main and Green streets with the intent of making them part of the downtown revitalization. The buildings have been vacant for more than eight years, and the foundation believes now is the time to bring them back to some of their former glory but in new and exciting ways.

To that end, the Legacy Foundation hired Artspace, a nonprofit developer for the arts based in Minneapolis, Minn., to come to town in November. A team from Artspace led two days of focus groups, tours and meetings to form a feasibility study of developing the theaters into an artist live/work community.

At Soup and the Scoop Tuesday night, committee co-chair Pam Kaupins revealed the results of the Artspace report based on their visit. While nothing has been set in stone and there are still more surveys to be conducted, the potential uses for the two buildings have foundation board members very excited.

The Capitol Theater, the building on the Green Street side, has the best potential as a flexible performing space, Kaupins shared from the report. This could be a multi-use area that could include a place for music, dance, theater, open mic nights and film festivals. The lobby could contain anything from concessions to a wine bar to an Internet and coffee café.

Next door at the Capri Theater, Artspace suggests a collaborative space for offices, makerspace or a shared art workspace. The example was given of someone who wants to weld. They may not have the space or enough tools to work on their own, but a group could get together in this building, share equipment and pay a small membership fee for the convenience. The lobby of this theater could then be used as a nonprofit or commercial gallery.

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