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  • Writer's pictureBrent Ortolani

Midland Theater Receives Grant from Walker Foundation

A grant of $204,000 from the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation of Fayetteville, Ark., has been received by the Midland Theater Foundation, Inc.

The gift, along with several others received in recent months, will allow the Midland Theater Foundation to begin renovations to the theater’s lobby, concession stand, stairways, mezzanine, and ballroom, as well as the addition of ADA compliant restrooms.

“This is a transformative gift that completes funding for the next phase of the project, which we refer to as ‘Front of the House’,” said Darrel Harbaugh, President of the Midland Theater Foundation. “After the completion of this phase, small-scale events can be held in the lobby, concession area, and ballroom.”

“Construction bids for this phase of the project were higher than expected due to the increasing cost of materials and labor,” Harbaugh said. “However, with some adjustments, renovations will move forward this summer, with completion expected early next year.”

The Walker Foundation was founded by the late Willard and Pat Walker, who lived in Coffeyville for many years before relocating to northwest Arkansas to join the Wal-Mart Corp. Willard Walker was the first manager of the Wal-Mart store in downtown Bentonville, Ark. The foundation supports a variety of endeavors, with a special focus on arts and culture, including the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Bentonville.

The next phases of the Midland project are the backstage area, followed by the 800-seat auditorium.

“Fundraising for these phases will begin soon,” Harbaugh added. “The theater foundation will be seeking grants from area foundations, corporate support, partnerships with other organizations, and contributions by current and former Coffeyville residents.”

The Midland Theater will turn 100 years old in 2028 and it is the goal of the foundation board to restore and reopen the Midland before its 100th birthday. “Our multi-pronged mission remains unwavering—to provide arts and cultural experiences for future generations of Coffeyville area students and residents, to restore an historic architectural gem, to offer a major music and entertainment venue for southeast Kansas, and to spur the rebirth and redevelopment of downtown Coffeyville."

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