The show must go on: How one group is helping a local theater get back on its feet

Local News

The Columbiana Cultural Collective is looking to raise $1.5 million to buy the Main Street Theater

COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WKBN)- The Main Street Theater, formerly Manos Theater, in downtown Columbiana has been a staple in the community since 1953, and it’s undergoing some changes after a very tough year.

“One of the last shows I directed here was Mary Poppins, and there was an older gentleman in that. I always ask my cast what’s your best memory of Mary Poppins? The kids all say Mary Poppins Returns, and this guy said, ‘Well, I took my wife on our first date to see Mary Poppins in this theater,'” said Erich Offenburg, chairman of the Columbiana Cultural Collective.

The theater is also special to Offenburg because he and his wife got married on stage last summer, making it the “longest show” to have been performed on that stage.

While many people have great memories at the theater, making new ones was put on hold because of the pandemic. That intermission has put a financial burden on the theater, and the owners have decided to sell it.

“Everybody that you talk to has a memory of the theater,” City Manager Lance Willard said. “The Arthurs [owners of the theater] have blessed us, and all we have to do is come together as a community and get it running again.”

To keep the theater going, the Columbiana Cultural Collective was created. They are looking to raise $1.5 million to buy and renovate the property.

The goal of the cultural collective is to host multiple shows a week from movies to stage productions, concerts, film festivals, classes, photography — all aspects of the arts to keep it in the community.

“One of our big things here, especially with Crown [Theater Productions], is we have a special needs program where all of our actors have some sort of a special need, and we do two shows a year for those actors. Those folks are really hurting during the pandemic just because of the social aspect of it and not having that in their lives,” Offenburg said.

Crown Theater Productions has been renting space from the owners of Main Street Theater. Offenburg is their artistic director. He said Crown will continue to rent there and that they’ll be considered the “home theater.”

“It’s nice to have a place to go and be entertained in whatever way you can. It was theaters and movies before. Now, it’s theaters and movies and music, dance, whatever performances we have here. It’s a very versatile space, so there will also be rental possibilities as well,” Offenburg said.

As the cultural collective waits to officially become a nonprofit checks can be sent to the Columbiana Tourism Bureau. In the memo write “Columbiana Cultural Collective.”

“We’ve been trying to work on our vibrancy downtown for a couple of years now and theater brings that. We’re really interested to see what programs they have in the future, and we really think that what they’re putting together is going to be really good,” Willard said.

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