Dahlonega’s historic Holly Theatre will soon begin major renovations thanks to two federal grants and community support.
Ivana Pelnar-Zaiko, chairman of the theatre company’s board, said the funding comes from the United States Department of Agriculture’s rural business development grant for $99,040 and a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission for $106,732. Both are being matched by the community’s ongoing contributions.
Pelnar-Zaiko said six restaurants and one merchant in Dahlonega were instrumental in helping the theatre company receive the matching grants.
“They wrote support letters from them proving that when the Holly Theatre puts shows on, their business goes up one-third higher than on nights without the shows,” Pelnar-Zaiko said. “If you look at both the county and city’s long-range plans, the Holly Theatre is very prominent as one of the cultural resources that helps attract not only locals, but visitors and tourists to the downtown.”
This month, the theatre will begin the installation of a new steel grid over the stage. Through this addition, Pelnar-Zaiko said the technical department will be able efficiently to change the scenery for performances, which couldn’t be supported by the old roof.
“Let’s say we want to change scene from inside into the woods,” she said. “If we have a drop with an interior painted on it, we could quickly lift that and lower it. Right now, all our actors with couple of helpers have to double up as prop and scene changers.”
The matching grants will also fund an update to the building’s heating and cooling system and the installation of a wheelchair lift to offer more accessibility to the stage.
So far, Pelnar-Zaiko said 90% of the renovation project’s $560,000 goal has been met.