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Delaware’s Historic Strand Theatre to Join Efforts to Expand City’s Emerging Cultural Arts District

November 28, 2007

DELAWARE, OHIO – It’s more than just a “Strand.” Downtown Delaware’s historic movie theatre is a strong cable that has anchored and entertained the community with first-run movies for more than 90 years.

Now the Strand Theatre, 28 E. Winter St., will anchor plans to expand an emerging cultural arts district within the city, an area intended to showcase visual, performing, and fine arts programs.

“Our goal is to create a regional entertainment destination,” said Joe Diamond, a downtown developer helping to spearhead the project. “The Strand Theatre area has enormous potential to host fine arts classes, plays, and music and dance performances, as well as show the latest movies.”

“Combined with the draw of The Arts Castle, Central Ohio Symphony, and Ohio Wesleyan’s Ross Art Museum, Performing Arts Series, and top-notch student and faculty performances, we have the building blocks to create something unique and wonderful,” added David O. Robbins, Ph.D., interim president and provost of Ohio Wesleyan University.

Key to the success of this venture will be community participation and support, Diamond said. As a first step, Ohio Wesleyan, which has owned the Strand since 2002, is transferring ownership of the theatre to a nonprofit organization. The governing board of the new organization will include representatives from the Delaware community and Ohio Wesleyan.

The newly created Strand Theatre and Cultural Arts Association is in the final stages of securing federal 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. When this is complete, the Strand will be able to begin offering patronages and other sponsorship opportunities to help refurbish the historic theatre and support the cultural arts district.

Ohio Wesleyan—with the help of the City of Delaware and U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Tiberi, R-Columbus—already has secured a $198,000 Housing and Urban Development grant on behalf of the Strand to support the project. A portion of the grant is being used to fund a space utilization plan by Cleveland-based architects Westlake Reed Leskosky, which worked on the Palace Theatre project in Marion, Ohio. The plan will examine the East Winter Street building that houses the Strand Theater as well as adjacent storefront spaces.

“Right now our plans are very preliminary,” said Bill Rogers, a director of the board that will govern the nonprofit organization. “But there’s already an excited buzz within the community. We think this project will add to the strong appeal of downtown Delaware and help to enhance its draw as a regional and state attraction.”

No timetable exists yet for the project, though the architect’s study is expected to take up to six months.

Ohio Wesleyan University is an undergraduate liberal arts college that transforms the lives of its students through a combination of rigorous academics, mentoring relationships, and real-world experiences. Featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” the private university’s 1,850 students come from 40 states and 45 countries. Visit www.owu.edu for more information.