Audiences at the Mid-Ohio Valley Players Theatre will be feeling a lot cooler thanks to a little help from the state of Ohio.
The nonprofit organization, now in its 53rd year, has been awarded $80,000 in grant money from the Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission to replace the original heating and air conditioning unit.
"We're replacing the unit that has been there since the place was built," said Ron Harmon, finance director of the organization, adding that MOVP is housed in the historic Putnam Theater, which was built around 1914.
"It's gas-fired brick furnaces and they're highly inefficient," he said.
Harmon said that the Players Theatre is the oldest theater in town and currently the only one in operation.
He said the auditorium can seat 300.
"This will allow us to cool the auditorium in the summer and heat it in the winter and, hopefully, bring in more people," he said.
Jena Blair, a longtime member of the group, said it is an upgrade that is much needed.
"It's a great thing. Audiences will be comfortable and it is so much more cost efficient," she said.
The cost savings, according to Harmon, is estimated to be 47 percent.
The Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission is a state agency that supports economic development, expands educational opportunities, and enhances the quality of life for Ohioans by improving the state's cultural facilities.
According to a press release from the commission, MOVP entered into a legally binding agreement that would allow them to be reimbursed on a pro rata basis as work is completed, using funds appropriated in House Bill 675 of the 124th General Assembly and House Bill 66 of the 126th General Assembly. General Assembly members who voted in favor of the measure include former Representatives Nancy Hollister, Charlie Wilson, Jimmy Stewart and Jennifer Garrison and former Senators James Carnes and Joy Padgett.
Initially, the theater was awarded $50,000 and the Showboat Becky Thatcher was awarded $30,000. When the boat left Marietta and eventually sank, that money was given to MOVP as well.
"This has taken about eight years," said past president of MOVP Billie Harmon. "The theater has really come a long way in the past couple years."
With an anonymous donation of $5,000, the front doors will be replaced with more efficient ones, all while keeping the historic look of the building.
Other improvements include new seats in the auditorium, fresh paint and the purchase of the Dye Building in 2010.
"That has allowed us to have practice space, offices and we rent the downstairs," said Ron Harmon.
While the economy has had an impact on attendance, Harmon is quick to note that the success of MOVP does not follow the trend.
"It is not normal for a theater to last this long on an all-volunteer basis," he said.
Once the new HVAC system is installed, there will be an open house for those who were instrumental in securing the grant.