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Bonnie Kate directors see important cultural future for 90-year-old theater

John Thompson • Sep 6, 2018 at 9:45 PM

ELIZABETHTON — On Thursday afternoon the Bonnie Kate Theater’s board of directors presented their vision of what the 90-year-old theater will be in its second century of service to the community.

The Bonnie Kate began showing movies back in 1926, before Hollywood movies had sound. Its directors hope the theater’s future goes back much further into the past, “to become a cultural arts center providing a fully renovated venue capable of supporting the presentation of a wide variety of theatrical, musical, and community events to enrich the lives of the citizens of Elizabethton and the surrounding areas.”

The importance of this vision was discussed by the two speakers who kicked off the session. Both are teachers at Elizabethton High School. Megan Foster is the drama teacher and Dustin Hensley is the librarian for the school.

Both spoke of the importance in culture in a civilization and both discussed their perception of the importance of Elizabethton in their lives. Foster said she came to a realization during a time when she served as a missionary overseas. She said everyone in the world has a hometown, and she should value and work for her hometown.

Hensley said he grew up in Hampton and Elizabethton was the big city in his boyhood. Hensley said he treasures birthday visits to the Bonnie Kate.

Foster said the Bonnie Kate has already become valuable to Elizabethton High School’s three-year-old drama program. She said the Bonnie Kate is important to the program because the high school is without a stage.

Both Foster and Hensley discussed how past civilizations have been valued by their cultural achievements.

Elizabethton Mayor Curt Alexander brought the importance to the present by discussing a city visioning session the members of City Council had held last year. One of their goals that the Bonnie Kate can help accomplish is the need to develop a thriving downtown.

Alexander said the city’s vision is to have downtown nightlife like Bristol’s, with options for families and visitors to enjoy food, drink and entertainment.

The renovation of the Bonnie Kate is a long-term goal, but progress was apparent to those who attended the vision meeting. A $100,000 project to reroof the old building was taking place.

Proceeds from the 2018 fall season will be going to help fund three projects; a new fire sprinkler system, electrical renovations and programs and operational costs.

People were encouraged to attend the fall productions and bring family and friends so they can enjoy seeing the progression of the renovations being done while enjoying the best local talent.

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