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Group seeks funds for a new theater

A small theater could one day be built behind the Gold Rush-era Nevada Theatre on Broad Street in Nevada City.

The nonprofit Nevada Theatre Commission, which runs the cultural venue on Broad Street, hopes to receive a $700,000 state grant to turn a 3,700-square-foot tin barn in the rear into a 100-seat theater. Commissioners also want to improve the interior of the 136-year-old building facing Broad Street.



The Nevada Theatre Commission would spend $500,000 on the new theater and another $200,000 for improvements inside the main building.




The group is one of several nonprofit organizations in Nevada County competing for state funding under the $2.1 billion park bond measure voters passed two years ago.

On Thursday, the city’s Planning Commission fulfilled a grant requirement by declaring the project consistent with the state’s environmental law.

Manager John McDade said Friday the new theater would provide a needed cultural space.

“It’s harder and harder for people to find a venue in town,” McDade said.

Improvements inside the theater would include: a wheelchair-accessible bathroom next to the box office, a new heating and cooling system, renovation of the dressing room under the stage, improved balcony seating, and fire sprinklers, he said.

The priority is to build the wheelchair-accessible bathroom, McDade and board member Glennis Dole said.

In October, a man filed a suit in federal court, alleging the commission had violated the American with Disabilities Act because the theater was not wheelchair-accessible. The suit was dismissed a month later, records show.

“Our client asked us to dismiss the suit,” San Diego lawyer for the plaintiff Russell Handy said Friday.

McDade said the Nevada Theatre Commission was never served and claimed efforts to build a wheelchair-accessible bathroom began more than a year ago, long before the suit was filed.

The Nevada Theatre Commission will raise the money on its own if it fails to receive the grant, McDade said. “We’ll just keep plugging away.”

The Nevada Theatre, where 246 people can sit in the main auditorium, has undergone a series of renovations since 1996. The seats have been reupholstered, the mortar on the front of the building repaired, and the electrical system redone, McDade said.

A former ice house on nearby Spring Street also belongs to the Nevada Theatre Commission. Renovated in 1995, it is now rented to the Foothill Theatre Company.

The Nevada Theatre operates on $60,000 a year.


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