New grant sets the stage for historic theatre renovation

A grant of $503,592 has been approved by the MEDC to support the restoration of the Vogue Theatre.

A historic renovation project in Manistee is getting a new financial boost, one that will help wrap up the fundraising campaign.

A grant of $503,592 has been approved by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to support the restoration of the Vogue Theatre.

"The renovation of this historic theatre into a vibrant entertainment venue will bring new vitality to downtown Manistee and serve as a catalyst for further positive activity in the community," said MEDC President and CEO Michael A. Finney. "We are pleased to support the efforts of the entire community in restoring the Vogue Theatre and bringing new life to the downtown area."

The restoration project started in February, 2011, with construction crews starting phase one of the project two years later in February, 2013. Phase one focused on the interior demolition to get ready to pour concrete for new theatre floors.

The MEDC and Historic Vogue Theatre of Manistee (HVTM) nonprofit must now enter into an agreement that establishes terms and conditions of the grant award involving allowable costs, schedules for use of funds and project completion, documentation of other restoration funding and others.

"The restoration and reopening of the Vogue Theatre will be a change agent for the Manistee community and this grant from the MEDC is the catalyst needed to make our vision and reality," said Cyndy Fuller, Chair of the HVTM Board of Directors. "It is with the profound thanks of an entire community that we express our appreciation to the MEDC and the many staff throughout their organization that support our grant request." The grant application was developed by the Alliance for Economic Success on behalf of the HVTM.

"This is a wonderful moment for the hundreds of people who have given their time and treasures to bring the Vogue Theatre back to life," said Vogue volunteer leader Meg Voelker. "The MEDC clearly understood how their grant could leverage great things for art and entertainment while service as the rainmaker to bring businesses and jobs to what will become a bustling downtown Manistee."

"This will open the door for wrapping up the restoration fund raising," said Steve Brower, Chair of the Vogue's Capital Campaign Committee and Treasurer of the HVTM Board. "The significance of MEDC's support cannot be overstated and we hope that they will be in the audience when we have our first film at the newly restored Theatre this summer!"

The full cost of the project is expected to be nearly $2.3 million and will include two theatres, a concession area, new sound and projection equipment, and an all new interior.

In February, the Vogue Theatre Capital Campaign still needed to raise about $500,000 to complete the project. Officials were hoping to establish the funding by the spring so the Vogue Theatre could be fully restored by summer.

"The Manistee area has taken a leap forward toward providing a year-round venue for great film entertainment that will delight movie-goers of all ages and interests for generations to come," said Cyndy Fuller, Chair of the Board of the Historic Vogue Theatre of Manistee.

The Vogue's restoration and operation will be similar to the State Theatre in Traverse City, which was restored under filmmaker Michael Moore's leadership. Moore has agreed to provide programming help for the Vogue, much like he does for the State.

The Vogue theatre was built back in 1938 and was the only movie theatre in the county. After 47 years of success, the theatre fell on hard times and was closed.