Honda has awarded a $75,000 grant to support restoration and development of the historic Gloria Theatre in downtown Urbana.
The nonprofit GrandWorks Foundation is directing efforts to turn the theater, at 216 S. Main St., into a regional hub for family-friendly entertainment, social networking, economic development and faith-based programming.
The grant, to be paid in three annual $25,000 installments, will help the GrandWorks Foundation buy equipment and complete renovations so the theater can host professional as well as amateur stage productions and concerts, present film and digital movies, and create conference facilities for businesses and organizations from around the region.
“We are grateful to Honda for their generous support of the GrandWorks Foundation’s mission to reach, restore and revive our community through the Gloria Theatre,” said GrandWorks Foundation Chairman Steve Hess. “Honda’s grant, along with donations and grants from other local businesses, manufacturers, foundations and individuals, will help reach our goals of making the Gloria Theatre a regional destination and stimulus for economic development and cultural, social and spiritual enrichment of greater Champaign County.”
The GrandWorks Foundation is using the first installment of the grant to purchase and install:
•A 30-foot, retractable aluminum lighting truss, which will hold spotlights and color LED lights for stage productions.
•Stage lighting and curtains.
•Energy-efficient LED lighting to replace incandescent bulbs in the marquee, to substantially decrease electricity costs.
Honda of America Foundation Executive Director Bobbie Trittschuh said, “The GrandWorks Foundation’s vision to restore and revitalize the Gloria Theatre fits well with Honda’s philanthropic initiatives to provide long-term, sustainable benefits that improve quality of life in the communities where our associates live.”
The Urbana United Methodist Church (UUMC) purchased the theater in 2014 from Chakeres Theaters, which had owned the property since 1970 and operated it as the Urbana Twin Cinemas until the theater’s closing in 2013.
The theater originally opened in 1905 as the Clifford Theater, built by Billy Clifford, a leading vaudevillian. It incurred significant fire damage in 1918, closed in 1930, and was purchased in 1940 by Warren Grimes, aviation lighting pioneer and founder of Grimes Manufacturing. Grimes remodeled the theater in art deco style, reopening it as the Gloria Theater, named for his youngest daughter.
The GrandWorks Foundation, a partnership of public, private and faith-based organizations, was created to lead and raise funds for the project. In addition, many volunteers have been donating hundreds of hours of time toward renovating the theater, which has already enabled the theater to host a variety of amateur stage productions since late 2014.
For more information about the project and how to get involved through volunteer work and monetary contributions, visit Grandworks.com.