Organizers are working to make Horse Cave Theatre a reality again through a crowdfunding website.
Indiegogo is a fundraising site the group is using to take individual contributions, said Ken Hailey, artistic director of Kentucky Stages professional theater company, which will make Horse Cave Theatre its home.
“A lot of theater companies in New York use it,” he said. “Some people have financed films. It’s kind of a fascinating site.
“We have direct links from our Web page (horsecavetheatre.com) and our Facebook page,” he said. “You use credit cards. It’s a very secure way of making a contribution. It goes through Feb. 1.”
The Indiegogo goal for the soon-to-be-nonprofit organization is $75,000, which will be used as the theater’s producing budget, Hailey said. So far they have raised $140. He also is seeking $75,000 in corporate donations. The closing day for the purchase of the theater is Feb. 16.
“The $150,000 is the make or break. If the contributions come through really well, then the mortgage will be lower,” he said. “We’ve set $300,000 as a goal. That would get us the theater with no mortgage.”
At certain donation levels, there are gifts ranging from T-shirts and mugs to private performances and lifetime season tickets.
“I’m very confident with the way things are going,” Hailey said of raising the money through multiple methods. “It’s going to happen.”
Horse Cave Mayor Randall Curry said bringing the theater back would have a positive impact on the community.
“Our young people would get to see plays and sometimes it would be the only way they would be exposed (to the arts),” he said. “If we could bring the theater back, the theater’s identity to the local community would come back. When it was renamed (Kentucky Repertory Theatre), there were a lot of people who weren’t happy about losing our local identity.”
Sandra Wilson, executive director of the Horse Cave and Hart County Tourist Commission, has seen firsthand how the theater made a positive impact.
“My kids absolutely loved to go over there on school trips. It helped so many young people who had talent, but also needed that exposure to learn about themselves,” she said. “It’s just an incomparable experience I hope we get back for the young people and all the residents in the area.”
From a tourism point of view, the absence of the theater leaves a “huge hole in our downtown,” Wilson said. Bringing it back would help the community thrive.
“It brings life to our community and foot traffic to our downtown business. It offers an evening thing to do,” she said. “Having the theater here gives people another reason to extend their stay to overnight and that’s important to us.”
An Appalachian Regional Commission grant that was used to update Horse Cave’s retail market showed that people want the theater back, Wilson said.
“I was so surprised at the numbers of people who indicated the loss of the theater was an important loss to them and they wanted it back,” she said. “It comes from every group of interest. It was remarkable. It seems to be part of our DNA to love it.”