BLT Seeking Continued Community Support
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The Brevard Little Theatre (BLT), a much loved community institution since 1935, is asking for community support as it struggles with financial difficulties.
BLT has made its home for the last three years at the American Legion Hall on East Jordan Street in Brevard.
While much progress has been made renovating the building to meet BLT's needs, more improvements are needed, according to Sonia Arnold, vice president of the theater board.
New heaters, toilets, acoustical tiles and an acoustical curtain have been installed. There is now an extended stage with a new apron.
A new air-conditioned space has been constructed, including dressing rooms and a bathroom.
"I think the acoustics have improved 100 percent," Arnold said.
At the same time, the downturn in the economy has reduced attendance and revenues, Arnold said.
BLT has 3,000 people on its mailing list and is sending out an appeal for financial assistance.
"This is to keep us alive," Arnold said.
Costs are up, but income is not, she said.
"We moved in one year before the economy tanked. People have less available money to spend on entertainment," Arnold said.
BLT lost its longtime home at the barn theater on the campus of Brevard College when the college decided it must use that space as a field house for its football team.
The American Legion, in need of additional financial support, agreed to lease the building to BLT.
The legion has invested its own money into a number of permanent improvements on the site that will help both groups.
"We were looking for something to buy when we saw an article in the newspaper about the legion's situation," Arnold said.
BLT is hoping to make the legion hall its long-term home, because it has a long history of moving from place to place.
"When I first came to Brevard in 1968 it was downtown near The Transylvania Times. It held about 100 people. The building used to belong to (former Congressman) Charles Taylor," Arnold said. Other homes over the years included the auditoriums at Brevard and Rosman high schools.
In addition to beefing up its finances, BLT needs more money for physical improvements at the legion hall, Arnold said.
"We need more power to come into the building. Sometimes, we overtax the capacity in the building and have to throw a breaker switch during a production," she said.
There are plans to install air conditioning this summer, which will be welcome news for members of the audience and the cast.
During musicals in particular, with lots of movement and costume changes, a warm building is not appealing, Arnold said.
Not only has BLT been a longtime entertainment asset for the community, it has also helped provide support for local young people.
A substantial number of former high school students who appeared on the stage at BLT are making careers in the theater business, said Arnold.
Arnold directs youth troupes at several venues in the area and maintains an association with Flat Rock Playhouse.
One of her friends and associates with BLT is Sandi Thompson, who is the stage manager and the wife of BLT President Mark Thompson.
"The arts are good for you. They work a part of your brain that needs working," Sandi Thompson said.
She said she loves the central location of the theater in downtown Brevard.
"The place is easy to find. We don't love it, but we are beginning to like it. It's good to use the building rather than having it sit idle more of the time," Thompson said.
BLT is a volunteer group that pays only for musicians and choreographers that it uses. Even so, it welcomes the free contributions those musicians and choreographers make when fundraising events are held periodically.
Thompson said she and Arnold have been thrilled to see their children grow up on the stage over the years and improve their self-confidence and skill.
Thompson's two sons, Andy and Zac, have practically grown up on stage, as has Arnold's daughter Ashley.
Thompson says there is something special about acting on a stage.
"It's being able to be someone else. It's fun to dress up, too," she said.
BLT is always looking for new talent, to act, to work backstage, or to put up posters downtown.
For more information about BLT, its productions, opportunities for participation or donating money, go to the Internet at http://www.brevardlittletheatre.com or call 884-2587.