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Enbridge awards $15,000 grant to Lyric

By Staff | Jul 19, 2013

Chris Bieri/PCT Friends of the Lyric’s Brenda Foster (left), Enbridge’s Katie Haarsager and Friends of the Lyric President Sue Steinke hold up a check for $15,000 in a matching grant provided by Enbridge to the theater group. The trio is surrounded by other community members and Friends of the Lyric board members.

Katie Haarsager said Rugby’s Friends of the Lyric group is rare among communities which have received matching grants from Enbridge Pipelines LLC.

Haarsager, a community relations advisor for Enbridge, was in town to present a check for $15,000 to the Friends of the Lyric on Wednesday. But the Friends of the Lyric, which raised $15,000 in matching funds in a matter of weeks, was not like many other groups.

“By the end of the year, you’ll get an update,” Haarsager said. “(Job Development Authority Executive Director) Brenda called me after a month and said they’d raised all of the money. The speed in which they were able to raise the funds shows how important it is to the community.”

Friends of the Lyric board president Sue Steinke said the community has driven the revival of the theater.

“I think the community support has been absolutely phenomenal,” she said. “It’s hard to put into words, the gratitude to the businesses and volunteers, the hours, hard work and financial commitments the community has made to the Lyric.”

Enbridge generally offers matching grants of between $500 and $1,500, Haarsager said, but sometimes offers larger grants as a motivation for communities tackling big projects.

“We try to look at projects that have a long-term affect on a community and have an impact on an entire community, not just a few members,” Haarsager said. “Rugby is one of our pipeline neighbors. (The grants) aren’t just for the western areas or bigger cities. It’s great to see these smaller communities that have a lot of life and excitement.”

With the $15,000 from Enbridge, Friends of the Lyric has raised more than $100,000, which will go toward a complete overhaul to the theater, complete with a new screen, new digital projector and sound equipment, as well as an electrical upgrade needed to accommodate the new equipment.

The electrical work has been done to the point of installation of new equipment, Steinke said.

The Rugby Eagles donated $4,100 to go toward the screen, and the “Friends of the Lyric” recently received $24,400 from the Rugby JDA, half in the form of a grant and the other half as an interest-free loan. That pushed the group over the top as far as fundraising for the upgrades.

Steinke said the tentative dates for installation of the new equipment are July 29-30.

Ticket sales for rural movie theaters generally slow during the summer, but the Lyric has sold more than 2,000 tickets since reopening in late March. The peak weekend was April 19-21, when 382 tickets were sold.

Steinke said installation of digital equipment was the group’s major project, but work still needs to be done to the building’s heating system and the marquee.

The theater also needs handicap-accessible bathrooms, a drain in the concession area, and soon it will be looking at renovating the seats.

“The building is 1922 vintage and hasn’t been updated in any significant way,” she said.

Steinke said the community effort has allowed the group to get this far, and will be key to maintaining the theater.

“I want to thank the volunteers,” she said. “Without the volunteers, we couldn’t have stayed open. It provides momentum for fundraising. If we had been closed the entire time, we wouldn’t have been able to do this. Same with the board and committees for all they do. It’s all on a volunteer basis. No one gets paid. Without these people, it just wouldn’t happen.”

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