Pamplin, Garden City Arts team up, aim to renovate State Theatre




Mark Pamplin, leader of the effort to renovate the State Theatre in downtown Garden City, is teaming up with Garden City Arts in the effort to raise money for the estimated $3 million project.

Built in 1929, the State Theatre, 418 N. Main St., was used as a theater until December 1999, when it was donated to the city.

Last fall, in response to the city commission's request for proposals concerning the State, Pamplin proposed a 400-seat, theater in the round renovation that would involve entirely gutting the interior to create a central stage surrounded by seating on the first floor, and turn the second floor into rehearsal and office space.

Originally, Pamplin believed he would be able to find a few private investors to fund the project. However, those he approached were unsure about the project's return on investment, prompting Pamplin to pursue a non-profit status to raise money. He found a willing partner in Garden City Arts, and Executive Director Laurie Chapman.

"The experience that Laurie brings to fundraising for the arts definitely helps in an effort of this size. The non-profit status creates opportunities for tax deductions for both individuals and corporations that donate. The Garden City Arts helps in raising awareness of the project and in the seeking of grants," Pamplin said.

Chapman said Garden City Arts' mission is to enrich lives and encourage creativity through the arts.

"While we primarily deal with the visual arts, we're not limited to that. We also encourage the performing arts, the literary arts, all aspects. This is just another way for us to help create a more vibrant, active arts community in Garden City. It just seemed logical," she said.

To kick off the fundraising partnership, a wine and cheese reception is slated from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. tonight at Garden City Arts Gallery, 318 N. Main St.

During the next several months, Pamplin said plans are being developed for other fundraising events, such as an 80s dance, a banquet, a standup comedy show and possibly a play during the Christmas season.

Another fundraising effort is the Star Program, a walk of fame outside the theater recognizing people who donate $1,500. In addition to the star, people who donate $1,500 will receive two free season tickets for the inaugural season.

Chapman said she is excited about the potential benefit the theater holds for Main Street, both for its economic base and in continuing to add to the city's thriving arts community.

"We're right down the street from a train station. People can get off the train, come down here to the local gallery and see some art, eat at a restaurant and then take in a show," Chapman said. "We already have people coming to this community to shop, let's build on that. Let's create a creative center, a focal point, in our community that adds to that. We're not only a shopping center, we're a thriving arts center."

In addition to the theater in the round, the first floor will include dressing rooms, concessions, restrooms and a ticketing office. The second floor, which spans the entire building, will provide rehearsal space, a dance studio, costume and set storage, and offices.

Pamplin said the renovated theater will be intimate, have great sight lines and be a unique draw for Garden City and western Kansas.

"A theater like this has the potential to draw 1,600 - 2,000 people per week that we don't normally get, so somebody will open a restaurant. Somebody will want to invest in something downtown," he said.

For more information about the project, or to contact Pamplin or Garden City Arts, visit,,, or

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