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PrattTribune - Pratt, KS
  • Non-profit organization may be next step for Barron Theatre

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  • Non-profit organizations, fundraisers, digital movie projectors and old movies are part of the elements that may help re-open the doors of the Barron Theatre.
    The Barron Theatre Project has lots to consider as they work their way through the process of finding the elements necessary to get the theatre open again and keep it operating.
    A dozen people gathered Oct. 2 to consider that path and more importantly how to get the community interested in coming back to the theatre.
    Heath Hensley said he had spoken to Tim Barker and Barker said his family wanted to maintain ownership of the theatre. They were looking for a group to manage and run the theatre. He said he would visit with the project group when they had a plan in place, Hensley said.
    Luke Kumberg, network administrator for Pratt Regional Medical Center, said the project would have to form a not-profit organization to be able to seek funding for the Barron. The South Central Community Foundation might be an avenue to pursue for funding, Kumberg said.
    The group wants to get more information from Barker on his expectations for the group.
    Von Hampton, an accountant, said he would like to review the Barron financial statements and do an analysis to see how the Barron functioned financially. He volunteered to contact Barker and discuss the matter.
    Hensley said as a non-profit organization they could possibly go to the city and request assistance with the city bills because it is expensive to run the Barron, about $3,000 a month for electricity.
    Because it is expensive to run the theatre, any profits would have to be plowed back into the building, said Genile Rawson, spokesperson for the project.
    She said that fundraisers would be needed and that it would important to get the community and the banks involved in the process.
    She wants to get Sunflower RC&D involved with the project as well.
    In 2015, the movie industry will no longer produce movies in a film version but shift to digital methods of production. To make the Barron viable, the theatre would have to have at least one of the two screens in a digital format to show new movies.
    One digital format system costs between $75,000 and $100,000, Rawson said.
    The group also discussed maintaining one film type projector and possibly showing a variety of old movies as an alternative. Perhaps offering a weekend matinee or running a trilogy of movies was also discussed.
    J.R. Robl, part of the Hutton Construction team that is building the new addition to Pratt Regional Medical Center, said he would offer his services as a grant applications writer and that he had been successful in getting a grant of $160,000 for a theatre in Concordia.
    Page 2 of 2 - Robl also said the group should investigate getting tax credits.
    Hensley, a father of three, said he is a World War II buff and wants to keep the Barron open not only for its entertainment value but also as a historically important part of Pratt's past and its ties with World War II.
    Kumberg said he had a unique historical tie to the Barron. His great-grandfather was the contractor who did the principal construction on the Barron. Hensley's great great-uncle also worked on the Barron.
    Kumberg said Pratt didn't have much to offer for the children in the community and it was important to get the Barron open again.
    Harold Windholtz, long time maintenance man for the theatre, said he would continue in that position without pay.
    The group plans to meet again, but did not set a date.
    The Barron was built in 1930 at a cost of $100,00 and was designed specifically for the new talking motion picture shows. The theatre closed at the end of 1989, but reopened in mid-March of the following year, with Jim Carter, Dr. Pat and Ann Barker as owners.
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