The STARS Foundation was approached in March 2016 by Nick and Faye Matherly who offered the expense-free use of the former Cabool movie theater and Southwards Development building, located on Highway 181 in Cabool. The Foundation began to develop a 5-year plan based on the use of the new building. Aspects of the business plan include ticket sales, costume rentals, concessions, a restaurant, community room, music lessons, and other events that will help cover operating costs.
There are three phases to the overall plan, starting with the building phase. This phase includes writing grants and completely renovating the conservatory, art room, public community room, bathrooms, and offices. We hope to complete this phase within this first year. The community room will be available to rent for events such as wedding receptions, community meetings, and family reunions to name a few.
Next year we will enter the second phase consisting of renovations to the existing theater, concessions, ticket, and entry areas.
Phase three, beginning the third year, will focus on an addition to the building which will consist of a 40-ft. by 60-ft. stage with a possible retracting roof line expanding from the east side of the existing building. Plans for the addition and theater include seating for 450 people while retaining an intimate viewing experience. Dressing rooms, costume storage rooms, sets and prop storage, and a prop workshop area are also planned.
The final phase and fifth year of the project will see the completion of the theater with lighting and sound equipment.
We believe this facility will be a huge asset to STARS and to the surrounding communities, allowing us to host professional productions from outside our area plus local performers. "Hopefully it will give us the ability to grow at a more comfortable rate," says Founder and Executive Director Rebecca Peterson. "We have gone from 40 students to over 350 in four years, and we struggle to maintain the demands of the program. Most of our teachers are not paid, sacrificing their time to help our students excel, but we would like to provide salaries for them. We have a wonderful relationship with larger city resources that are brought to us that will increase on a national level. Not only will we be able to perform in a facility that will accommodate us, it will also be large enough to bring performances to the stage from all over."
Monetary donations are greatly appreciated and will be commemorated by plaques at the new facility. "I hope STARS is valued as an asset of the arts," continues Peterson. "This donation is the beginning of STARS growing into its true potential and what it was meant to become. We have not had a facility large enough to hold our events. When complete, the complex will be over 20,000 square feet. However, this is a huge undertaking and we will need the support and help of those with knowledge of grants and those with the skills to help us complete this."
While the plans are taking shape, STARS continues with normal operations such as teaching and working with students, preparing for performances, and providing students the tools they need to succeed. "There is something for everyone at STARS," says Peterson. "This is one thing in life we can all grow old with whether we are a performer, a student, a teacher, or an audience member."