Plans Unveiled to Restore Exeter's Ioka Theater
It includes new movie screens and a bar.
Exeter's now-dormant Ioka Theater will soon be renovated as an art house that will include two movie screens, two stages, a bar, function room, and more.
The theater, which was built in 1915, will once again become a "vital, lively theater in downtown Exeter," according to the Exeter Theater Company.
The group is organizing the theater's revival after Kensington philantropist Alan Lewis paid $600,000 at an auction to rescue the Ioka. That price was nearly double the building's assessed value.
The theater company, led by Exeter resident Carol Walker Aten, launched an extraordinary grassroots effort to rally support for the Ioka's revival. The group got more than 1,300 people to join its cause by donating money.
The company now plans to make the Ioka a place to show digital movie releases, independent film screenings, live music, stage performances, and live events, among other performances.
Plans include an updated lobby, handicapped-accessible restrooms, a 350-seat updated theater with new equipment, new balcony concessions area, downstairs function and performance space with an additional stage and screen, catering kitchen, and new dressing and green rooms. The main theater and the lower venue will be connected by a new interior stairway as well as a small elevator.
"While these plans still require additional finishing touches, they provide sufficient basis for the Exeter Theater Company to conclude that the Ioka Theater can be operated in a financially sustainable manner," the theater company said in a statement.
The plans were based on community input the theater company gathered through a series of open forums held in and around Exeter.