The Kenosha Theatre Restoration Project is a volunteer group of local citizens and community leaders dedicated to restoring the Kenosha Theatre to its former grandeur. The goal is not only to restore this treasure because of its historical significance but to breathe new life and purpose into it by renovating it into an entertainment complex. Its use then becomes limitless and a true asset to the Kenosha downtown and to the surrounding communities as a whole.
A 1989 market study which focused on the viability of restoring the Kenosha Theatre as a live entertainment center concluded that there was a market for a live entertainment venue such as the Kenosha Theatre and that the theatre should be restored for this use. It also indicated that, put to this use, the theatre will draw people from Kenosha, Racine and Lake Counties to see live performances of dramatic plays, popular music stars, comedians, country music stars, ballets, orchestral concerts, jazz concerts, musicals, operas and a whole host of other entertainment and educational activities.
A 2010 market study conducted by the University of Wisconsin Parkside Center for Market research concluded that there is a huge demand for a restored theatre and that it would bring around $14.5 million annualy into the downtown Kenosha economy.
Restoring movie palaces is not a new concept. Our vision is not revolutionary. It copies success. We want people to know that Kenosha is extremely lucky to have the opportunity to restore its old theatres. Many communities have enlisted the wrecking-ball mentality making movie palaces the most endangered type of building on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Kenosha Theatre is but one of four 1920's era live performance theatres in downtown Kenosha. Although the Kenosha Theatre is the largest (originally seating 2,300 people) the Rhode Opera House, the Orpheum Theatre and the Reuther Auditorium are also magnificent buildings which together could create an historic theatre district.
Yes, the vision and realization of a vibrant entertainment district will take time, but it is achievable and people will use it. The evolution will take imagination and dedication. Other arts groups will benefit from the renewal of interest in performing arts and arts education that an entertainment district will cultivate. Area business will also benefit from the satellite development that will arise from the newly created opportunities an entertainment district will provide.
Local schools, universities and other youth organizations would benefit greatly as we see the theatre as an opportunity to get young people involved in theatrical production. One of our goals would be to use the theatre as a training ground for young talent. We see an opportunity to have big name, national touring performances stop at the Kenosha Theatre and have students participating backstage during these performances. Little is more important than sparking the interest and excitement of our youth in a positive way. What better way to do this than by providing this kind of opportunity?.
The time has come. After waiting for many years, the environment that can nurture an entertainment district has finally arrived. We welcome it and hope you will too.
|© The Citizens' Group for the Kenosha Theater|