Dear Friends –
Many of you have noted the absence of a fall production and Christmas Concert this year. Regrettably, due to structural problems in the auditorium ceiling, and out of an abundance of caution, the OVAC board feels it is unsafe to have audiences, cast, and crew in the building until these problems are rectified.
The decorative tin ceiling structure of the auditorium is unique. The 1907 curved design improves acoustics and helps the audience hear the performers. Unique structures were used to achieve the barrel shape of the ceiling. Over time, some of the trusses have suffered stress fractures, and caused the ceiling to sag in some areas.
With the assistance of the Idaho Heritage Trust, we have had the roof and ceiling evaluated by historical structural engineers. They have given recommendations for restoring the integrity of the roof and ceiling. Currently, we are contacting building contractors to implement those recommendations and make Howells Opera House safe for future productions.
It is the intention of the OVAC board to preserve and restore the building for the enjoyment of generations to come. All of this will come at some cost. The goal of preserving the historic structure, and promoting the arts in the area is funded through productions, concerts, and other means with the three yearly productions providing the bulk of the revenues. Without these productions it would be impossible to preserve the opera house and without a structurally safe building there can be no productions.
The board is seeking donations to pay for the restoration work. Our heartfelt thanks to those that heard about the need and have donated to the cause. We know many in the area appreciate the value of arts and entertainment in the community and enjoy attending performances, and participating in them. We encourage all to donate generously to preserve our Historic Howells Opera House, which is on the National Historic Places Register.
We have applied for a matching grant from the Idaho Heritage Trust, which helps with preservation and restoration of historic buildings in Idaho. OVAC is a nonprofit organization and pays for janitorial services during production. No one else is paid.
The board and Friends of OVAC donate their time and talents as a “labor of love”. Every dollar donated will go to the restoration of the theatre. Your gift will benefit generations to come. Help us again fill the opera house with music and laughter! Hope to see you in 2022!
Send donations to: Oakley Valley Arts Council, PO Box 176, Oakley, ID 83346