KVMR, Nevada Theatre collaborate, create trust
KVMR 89.5 Community Radio and the Nevada Theatre announced they have established the Bridge Street Trust, which will own the building to be constructed behind the 148-year-old theater, as well as the theater building itself and the adjacent Ice Depot building.
The signing of the trust agreement on July 30 marked a major milestone in the collaboration between the two nonprofits. The new building will provide a new and larger home for KVMR and expanded backstage space for the theater.
“This is a major step forward in this fantastic journey to keep KVMR in historic downtown Nevada City in a permanent home,” said Michael Young, president of the KVMR board of directors.
Ron Spiller, president of the Nevada Theatre Commission, noted that “the many theatre companies and event producers that rent the theatre have lamented the inadequacy of the current backstage area. The commission is looking forward to being able to offer an improved facility, as well as to collaborating with KVMR on live broadcasts from the theatre.”
The trust’s board initially includes six representatives from the KVMR board of directors and the Nevada Theatre Commission. Eventually, other members of the community who share a commitment to the two organizations will be invited to serve as trustees. KVMR and the theater commission will manage their separate areas of the trust’s property under 99-year leases at $1 per year. The leases were also signed this week.
The public charitable trust structure is the same model of ownership under which the Miners’ Foundry in Nevada City is structured. Nevada City attorney Allan Haley, who was instrumental in creating the Foundry’s trust in 1989, has been an advisor to KVMR and the Nevada Theatre Commission in creating the Bridge Street Trust.
The new building will feature radio broadcast and production studios, offices and a performance studio that doubles as a community room in 6,500 square feet for KVMR. For the theater, 1,500 square feet will be accessible directly from the stage for a much-needed backstage area with room for rehearsals, storage, dressing rooms and restrooms.
The project began in April with disassembly of the three barns which used to stand behind the theater where the new structure will be built. The exterior tin was carefully removed and is being stored at an off-site location. It will be used on the exterior of the new building, which was designed by Nevada City architect Jeff Gold to honor the historic look of the old barns. Workers have also been preparing the site, installing utilities and shoring up the back wall of the theatre in preparation for the construction of the new building. The general contractor is Landmark Construction.
Both organizations are actively involved in an on-going $1 million capital campaign to raise funds for the building. Nearly 300 people have already donated to the campaign. A video has been posted online explaining the project: https://vimeo.com/63303996
KVMR, which first went on the air in 1978, has long needed a permanent home. It began in a miner’s shack on top of Banner Mountain, moved to the Miners Foundry in 1991 and has been renting cramped and inadequate quarters across the street from the new home since the late 1990s.
The Nevada Theatre was built in 1865 from the ashes of Bailey’s Rooming House, which was destroyed in a fire that burned most of Nevada City. It is the oldest live theater in California and is a designated California Historic Landmark. The building has no backstage to speak of. Space for storage of sets and props is severely limited. Performers currently use the basement and the old boiler room for costume changes by navigating a dark and narrow stairway during live performances.
The collaboration has been managed for the past two years by the Bridge Committee, composed of three members from each organization and so named because the new building will be located on Bridge Street and the committee “bridges” the two organizations. Mary Ross, vice president of the KVMR board of directors and chair of the Bridge Committee, called the project “an historic contribution to the cultural life and physical landscape of Nevada City. This illustrates the power of collaboration in enabling two of the city’s treasures, KVMR and the Nevada Theatre, to realize goals that each were struggling to reach on their own.”
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