Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Towbes announces challenge grant for Granada

BY ERIC LINDBERG
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

Although officials called the grand unveiling of the completely renovated Granada Theatre just weeks ago a treat for many, Michael Towbes truly put the cherry on top.
The longtime supporter and theater board member joined his wife, Anne, to proclaim a $5 million donation to the renovation campaign on Tuesday with one caveat: the community must match that figure by the end of the year.

“I’m incredible proud of what we’ve accomplished here,” Towbes said, standing in the lobby of the restored theater. “The result has been a performance space that I think has exceeded our fondest expectations.”
But despite recently hitting the $50 million mark in donations in recent weeks, the project still needs another $10 million to be on sound financial footing, he said.
“Anne and I want to reenergize the campaign,” Towbes said. “…I know it can be done and we’re counting on the community.”
Peter Frisch, executive director of the Granada, said he has been working with Towbes constantly since the onset of the project, calling him the go-to guy for advice, support and wisdom.
“It was Michael’s initial gift of $2.5 million that started this whole thing and made a dream a reality,” Frisch said. “…He’s our cleanup hitter. And I don’t mean that just in terms of money.”
Although Frisch knew about the challenge match beforehand, he said the theater’s board of directors learned of the donation at their meeting Monday evening.
“They stood up in the meeting and cheered,” he said. “And that’s the first time I’ve ever seen them do that.”
A portion of the funds raised during the match period, which ends in December, will be used to create an endowment to further solidify the launch of its first full season since the renovation this fall.
Towbes is confident the community will respond to the challenge, particularly after seeing the nearly finished interior during its grand opening.
“Everyone who comes here is just blown away,” he said. “We had a lot of naysayers in the beginning who said we couldn’t get it done. Now they want to be a part of it.”
Susan Gulbransen, vice president of the board, and Joan Rutkowski, also a board member, said they had no idea their initial idea to slap some paint on the walls and put in new seating would turn into such a massive undertaking.
“In the beginning, I don’t think we imagined it would be this fabulous,” Gulbransen said.
Rutkowski echoed her, calling the Granada restoration a “situation that was just meant to be.”
Both praised Towbes for his longtime involvement and dedication to the theater.
“This would not be the wonderful project and theater that it is without Michael,” Gulbransen said.
Frisch said work on the Founders Room will be complete in May and workers plan to finish off the box office in June, putting the finishing touches on the theater after years of construction.

1 comment:

Johnathan J. Smith said...

Once again a developer tentatively "buying your love." I'll probably contribute to the cause because the tax paying middle class public has adopted this tax relief policy for the rich so they can turn around and buyback our affections with these efforts. By the way I do have much respect for Michael Towbes and many of our local developers. It's the processes we have adopted that disturbs me.