Grant Funding Helps Update Broadway Theater

Grant Funding Helps Update Broadway Theater

ROCK SPRINGS – The Rock Spring Main Street/URA recently applied for a grant with the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund to begin a number of projects aimed at improving the Broadway Theater and meeting the demands of Sweetwater County’s growing theatrical and performing arts industry.

The grant request was approved with a funding match of just under $8,000. With those funds, a brand new lighting board and relays were purchased through Barbizon Lighting Company of Denver. This is only the first phase to upgrade the entire lighting system. The next steps include purchasing LED, color-changing lights, updating the relay and dimming systems, and training the individual theater companies on how to operate the equipment.

This update, along with future plans of revamping the sound system and other technical aspects, will contribute to the overall quality of events hosted at the Broadway Theater, as well as diversify its capabilities as a dynamic space. The transition to modern LED lighting from the current incandescent system will also cut back on utility costs – as well as stabilizing the comfortable temperatures for patrons during shows.

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“There is so much talent here, just waiting to be given an opportunity,” Kenny McCormack, theater and events coordinator for the Rock Springs Main Street/URA and the Broadway Theater said. “The new rise in the theatre industry for Sweetwater County is happening naturally. This elevation is a positive step, not only for the arts in our community, but for our community as a whole.”

A History of Performances

Opening Christmas Day with “There’s a Girl in my Heart”, the original West Theater was built in 1948; seating 758 people.

Soon after opening, other existing theaters closed down making the West Theater the city’s only functioning movie theater for nearly 30 years. Eventually, the West Theater was sold and became the Rock Theater and continued to show films. As Rock Springs grew, the business quickly outgrew the location and moved to the White Mountain Mall. After the move, the original location, owned by Victory Fellowship Church, sat vacant for nearly a decade only being occasionally used for storage.

In June of 2008, the City of Rock Springs and the Rock Springs Main Street/Urban Renewal Agency purchased the Rock Theater for $90,000 in efforts to restore, maintain, and assist in the economic development of the historic downtown area. Private investments amounting to $500,000, as well as a $1.7 million investment contributed by the city and the Wyoming Business Council, completed the restoration of the theater. In a combined effort from multiple organizations, the newly renovated Broadway Theater again became the gem of Downtown Rock Springs.

Nearly 13 years later, the venue is full of life. There is an official Broadway Theater season that hosts roughly eight shows a year, showcasing a wide range of performing arts mediums including dance, theatre, and live music.

The historic venue is also a home to four local, theatrical production companies ranging from nonprofit to professional. The Actors’ Mission is a Sweetwater County staple. Having presented shows for the last 20 years, their mission of “feed the body – nourish the mind” still remains strong. The Horizon Theater and The Starling Company were both formed in 2022 in an effort to provide more access, opportunity, and diversity to the art form. Horizon provides entertainment for the more family-friendly audiences, their next being a classic, “The Wizard of Oz.” On the opposite end of the spectrum, Starling focuses on the amplification of marginalized voices through performance. The fourth group is Upstage Theater Company, who has dabbled in the worlds of theatre, burlesque, and an on-going princess party business.