SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) -"Breathtakingly beautiful....iconic," said Stephen Roberts. “It takes you to Broadway.”
These are just some of the words that come to mind when Roberts describes the Strand Theatre. Sitting in the heart of downtown Shreveport is the state of Louisiana’s official theatre.
The theatre was built in 1923 and for decades has brought musical masterpieces to its stage.
Roberts is starting the new year as the board president, but he’s no stranger to this iconic Shreveport landmark.
“I’ve always been a fan of the arts, and in the late 80′s I just became more active,” he said. “I wanted to contribute some money. I wanted to be involved. I wanted to make a difference for our community, and I sought out a seat on the board.”
He’s coming in as the Strand Theatre enters a new year with no debt.
“We were in debt over $275,000,” said Roberts. “We had several liens against us including one against us for the stagehands. That was I believe $75,000.”
Along with that, the theatre also had maxed their line of credit totaling out to $100,000. Many of the board members had signed their own names as guarantors on the debt making them liable.
It was during that time two years ago Jodie Glorioso stepped in to become the board’s president.
“We were taking deep breaths, but I do believe there are certain angels above that are watching over us and so those angels sent people our way," she said.
Those angels are in the community. The board soon created a matching fund (known by members as the “magic fund”) where the money raised by the community would be matched by individual and honorary board members.
“We went to the community with letters and from the stage, we begged,” said Glorioso.
The first year they wanted to raise $50,000. $25,000 would be from the community while the other half would be matched by board members. They ended up raising around $62,000.
They did another magic fund campaign and in December they were surprised with a generous donation from a community member that helped them clear their debt and start the new year with nearly $100,000.
Roberts says they plan to use that money on much-needed renovations. They will work to get the carpentry, and drapes fixed as well as purchase more hearing devices for the hearing impaired.
“There’s $900,000 worth of things that need doing today a year from now they’ll be another $900,000,” he said.
While Roberts and Glorioso have seen the theatre at it’s worse, they both always had high hopes for the theatre.
“I never thought we would have to close the doors,” said Roberts. “We certainly discussed it... but I never we’d never really had to close the doors. She’s such a magnificent, iconic landmark for our state and Shreveport, Louisiana is so fortunate to have her.”
With a new year, no debt, and money in the bank, Roberts hopes to bring more quality programs to the Strand Theatre, and work to reach a younger audience.
“We need to diversify,” he said. “We need to reach the younger demographic so that the future will be sustainable.”
On February 8th the Strand will be showcasing the musical “Finding Neverland.”
You can read more about it and purchase tickets HERE.