EFFINGHAM – The Rosebud Theatre in Effingham, which closed in December after only two years of operations, has received a reprieve, with the city of Effingham agreeing to buy it and turn it over to a nonprofit group.
Janie Oldfield, the immediate past executive director and CEO of the theater, will likely head the group, Arts Connection of Central Illinois.
The city agreed to buy the Rosebud for $3.3 million, to be paid over 20 years at $250,000 a year, and to make the first two payments with money from Effingham's hotel/motel tax. The remaining payments would become the responsibility of Arts Connection, which will lobby the state to create a new tax on food and beverages in Effingham to cover the mortgage.
"Now that the city has approved the sale, we hope for state legislation to impose a half-percent food and beverage tax so that after two years the city would be able to stop using the hotel/motel tax to support the purchase," Oldfield said, "and we would have revenue through a food and beverage tax to carry out that mortgage payment. In that way, the nonprofit would not have to assume the mortgage."
The nonprofit group's operating budget for the Rosebud would be based on a combination of sales and donations.
Oldfield, who became the Redbud's executive director in January 2009, said a combination of factors made it difficult for the theater to succeed.
"We think now we have minimized a number of those factors," she said Friday. "We think we understand the marketplace and can cultivate an audience and be successful."
The $5.4 million regional theater, built in the Branson, Mo-style, was offering 60 shows year-round, concentrating on country music, comedy and classics. Thirty-six investor units – banks, businesses and individuals – in Effingham had started the commercial theater.
If all goes well, the Rosebud would reopen in September and likely offer fewer shows, particularly in the summers, when it would concentrate on special events, Oldfield said.