Wieting Theatre 2020 Year in Review-Recovery

Larry Yazzie dances at an event at the Wieting Theatre in 2020 during a Facebook Live event November 2 held during quarantine. Photo Provided

One would think with a pandemic, a derecho, and the Wieting being closed since March of 2020, there would be nothing to report. Much has been going on behind the scenes.

Our biggest challenge was how to pay our ongoing expenses such as rent, utilities, insurance, fire alarm contract, interest on the loan, etc. with no income. Many community members made us aware of funding opportunities for non-profit organizations to help us survive. Our treasurer, Michelle Evans, took it upon herself to follow up on every lead and complete the necessary paperwork. Words can’t express our appreciation for her hard work on our behalf! The Wieting was awarded seven new grants.

NE Iowa Community Foundation – $2,250 awarded for STEAM Classes which had to be canceled was then applied to our loan.

Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Relief Fund – $4,500 used to meet responsibility of operating expenses.

Iowa Economic Development Non-Profit Recovery Fund – $13,766 for additional operating expenses.

Iowa Economic Development Movie Theatre Relief Fund – $10,000 per screen for movie theatres in Iowa.

Arts Midwest Covid Resilience Grant – $20,000 to build resiliency and sustainability.

Iowa Arts and Culture Recovery Program – $10,000 for operating and COVID recovery expenses through December, 2020.

Derecho Relief Grant – $2,500 to help pay for damage not covered by insurance.

We are so very thankful for the support of the above organizations but also for local citizens who donated part of their stimulus checks to help. The Clothes Closet donated funds to provide free movie weekends. Many other friends of the theatre work in the background without recognition and donate their services. CIRSI clients clean the theatre, Sanitary Refuse and Garbage Service picks up our trash, Bossman’s Window Service keeps our widows spotless, Kendall Jordan clears our driveway of snow, and Musgrave TLC makes sure our grass is green and weed free. Trustees and Guild Members are so very appreciative of their help. In September many of you donated or purchased items at our garage sale in Marge Ziskovsky’s garage. We made almost $5,000 through your generosity. Popup Popcorn Sales were also supported last summer and fall. With all this support, we have reason to be optimistic for 2021.

The new addition at the Wieting was chosen as one of the STC Remote Learning Labs. Thirty-six students in grades K-5 received help daily from September 8th until January 21st.

Students worked in rotations on reading and math activities to complete their daily work for school. The students were very respect of our property and grounds. What a great use of our space!

August 10, 2020, was a day that affected all of us. The Wieting had the ridge cap blown off the roof, cracks in the plaster walls, the electrical panel and dialer for the fire alarm system was destroyed and there was damage to the light board and projector in the booth. I am happy to report that progress is being made to correct these issues which will allow us to reopen soon.

Life will be forever changed after this pandemic. Will production studios release new movies to theatres or will they go directly to streaming? When will our volunteers be willing to work again? Will our community members feel confident enough to be entertained in a group setting with their neighbors? We have a beautiful community asset. How can it be used to its full potential to meet community needs and wants? To help chart our future to build resiliency and sustainability, the Guild has contracted with Iowa State Extension and Outreach to present a Strategic Planning Process, a two-day event this June. We will be reaching out to you for your thoughts on future uses of the Wieting Theatre and Opera House.

Mackenzie McFate is in the process of rebuilding our website which will make it easier to use and more secure. Our rental agreement is being finalized and will also be posted there. We encourage you to take advantage of this beautiful facility to celebrate your family, help your organization achieve its goals and meet community needs.

Speaking for the entire Guild, we can’t wait to see all of our hard-working and loyal volunteers, friends and neighbors enjoying a good laugh or cry in the Wieting Theatre. Please stay tuned.

The Wieting Theatre held its Annual Meeting on Thursday, April 15th to elect new officers, review finances and activities for the year. The present volunteer caretakers of the Wieting are: Denise Fletcher Past-President, Leann Clemann President, Dallas Boerm Vice-President, Marie Mann, Secretary, Michelle Evans Treasuer.

Guild members: Lori Baier, Josh Clemann, Charlie Johnson, Barb Jordan, Sandy Kapayou, Alan Kline, Mark McFate, Morgan McFate, Kevin Nelson, Eric Rosario, RLou Snyder. Additional support is provided by Mary Fasse-Shaw, Steve Kenkel and Jason Staker.

Hope to see you soon at the Wieting!!