Wright Opera House One Step Closer to Public Ownership
Jul 12, 2010 | 2747 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Historic Wright Opera House (Courtesy photo)
The Historic Wright Opera House (Courtesy photo)
OURAY – The proposed purchase of Ouray’s Wright Opera House is another step closer to reality. The sellers, Larry and Alice Leeper, have reduced the price of the building, according to the Friends of the Wright Opera House. The non-profit is leading the campaign to purchase the 122-year-old building and upgrade its existing facilities in hopes of creating a small performance space and a home for the Center for the Arts of Ouray County.

“The Leepers have donated to the campaign by reducing the price from $1 million to $850,000,” said Dee Williams, chair of the Friends of the Wright Opera House. “This brings us a bit closer to our goal of closing the sale during 2010 to protect the current tax benefits for our donors.”

The package was negotiated pro bono by Ridgway businessman and realtor, Ed Folga, on behalf of the Friends of the Wright Opera House.

The building is already providing spaces not available elsewhere for performance and arts education. According to Williams, this past year has basically provided a “test run” to see how fully the building is likely to be used.

“Instead of having a large portion of the building mostly dormant, those spaces have been opened up to a variety of uses,” she said. Organizations that have used the building include Weehawken Creative Arts, Ouray County Performing Arts, Ouray County Players, Timshel Theater Company, and the Movie Club. Weddings, conferences, proms have added to the consistent usage.

“We are into our final fundraising push now,” said fundraising chair Joyce Linn. “The community has been extremely generous over the past year. With donations, pledges, and grants, the campaign total has reached $548,000. That has covered the many fees essential for starting and maintaining this campaign including appraisal, structural analysis, obtaining the mixed use non-profit status, a reserve for closing costs, and promotion of events.

“The campaign currently has a bit over $500,000 to take to the closing, and we have approximately $150,000 more potentially identified,” continues Linn. “We need to raise the rest before October 1 if we are to prepare for a December closing. A tall order, but we won’t know if we can do it unless we try.

Donors assisting with the Wright Opera House purchase will receive significant tax benefits if the sale can be completed in 2010. The State of Colorado has designated the building as an Enterprise Zone Rural Economic Development project, allowing a 25 percent tax credit on donations between $50 and $100,000. Combined with the current Federal IRS charitable donation deduction, effective at least through 2010, donors receive at no less than half of their donation back in tax benefits.

Persons interested in supporting the purchase of the Wright Opera House should contact Linn, 970/325-4235, or any board member. Potential donors are encouraged to first take a tour of the building to learn first-hand its current condition and the manner of enhancements being considered. Boardmembers conduct frequent tours and welcome inquiries.

Summer/Fall fundraising events include a benefit performance on July 26 by Kurt McComber; a Ouray County Performing Arts Guild concert on Aug. 4; an in-the-works Timshel Theater Company production of “Tuesdays With Morrie” in late September or early October; and a Diamond W Wranglers concert on Sept. 17;. For campaign information and a complete Opera House schedule, go to www.SaveTheWright.org.
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