A local nonprofit group is facing a March 31 deadline to raise $600,000 as it attempts to buy the historic Ioka building and revive it as a community theater.
The Exeter Theater Company wants to purchase the Ioka from local philanthropist Alan Lewis, who won a bidding war for it at a 2011 auction.
Lewis had said he was going to lease to the Ioka to the theater company, but he recently changed his mind and now wants to sell it for $600,000—the same amount he bought it for. The $600,000 was nearly double the building's assessed value in 2011.
As of mid-December, the theater company had raised about $140,000.
"This is kind of our last shot to acquire the theater and make it work," said Carol Walker Aten, a consultant working with the theater company, in a recent interview.
Last year, the theater company raised at least $50,000 in a membership drive.
The theater company wants to fix up the Ioka and make it available for movies, plays, concerts, and other performances.
Below is a recent letter from Anthony Callendrello, chairman of the Exeter Theater Company's board:
We have some important and exciting news to share about the Ioka’s future, a topic I know you are as committed to and passionate about as I am.
I get asked frequently what the Exeter Theater Company has been doing in the eight months since our successful membership campaign in March. Rest assured, we’ve been hard at work and I want to update you on our progress:
We’ve been deep in negotiations with the Ioka’s current owner over our future role in overseeing the building. Our initial hope was to arrange a favorable, long-term lease but it became clear that the terms the owner proposed would not allow us sufficient control of the property to raise the funds necessary for renovation.
After months of discussion, consultation, and compromise, we have moved on to a very different but in my opinion much more responsible and exciting path – purchasing the building outright.
What does this mean? In short – a lot. The building, and the future of the Ioka, will now rest solely and permanently in the hands of those who love it and are determined to see it succeed as an independent, community-run theater.
Now comes the challenge – we have until March 31, 2013 to raise the $600,000 needed to purchase the Ioka the first step in a larger Capital Campaign to raise the $4.6 million needed to completely renovate and re-open the theater.
We are asking you, our members, to do two things:
Allow us to apply your past contribution to our Capital Campaign.
Dig deep and contribute as much as you can again now.
If all our members do this, we will be halfway to our immediate goal of purchasing the theater.
I sincerely thank you for your past generosity and hope you will consider being a part of this next exciting stage of the Ioka’s rebirth with a year-end gift to the Exeter Theater Company. Donations are fully tax-deductible and can be made by returning the enclosed gift form or visiting our website – exetertheater.org.
I am confident we will reach the goal of this campaign and that the Ioka will once again be home to the best film, live music, and theater that the Seacoast has to offer!
I welcome any questions or comments you may have about the theater, the campaign, or anything else. Feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy holidays from us all,
Chair, Board of Directors
Exeter Theater Company