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December 13, 1999

'Illinois First' To Renovate Historic Virginia Theatre

CHAMPAIGN -- Governor George H. Ryan today announced $900,000 in Illinois FIRST funding to help renovate the historic Virginia Theatre in downtown Champaign.

"By restoring the Virginia Theatre, we are preserving a piece of history," Ryan said. "This is a sound investment in the future of the arts in the Champaign-Urbana area, and a good example of the type of quality-of-life projects Illinois FIRST will support throughout the state."

The Virginia Theatre was first opened in December 1921. It has served as a venue for shows, musical presentations and vaudville, as well as a movie theater. Numerous famous performers have appeared at the Virginia over the years including the Marx Brothers and W.C. Fields.

Planned renovations include work to meet local building codes and ADA requirements. The complete renovation project includes renovation to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, a new roof , renovation of the lighting and sound system, stage rigging and the projection booth and movie screen. In addition, there will be general restoration of the stage, dressing rooms, lobby and concession area and the marquee. New furnishings for the theatre are also included in the project.

The Champaign Park District bought the Virginia Theatre from the City of Champaign in July 1999, and the Park District will own and mange the theatre while the Champaign-Urbana Theatre Company will remain the resident theatre company.

To date, $110,000 of the $900,000 state commitment has been released. Additional funds will be released as the project progresses.


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