WILKES-BARRE — The 25th anniversary fundraising campaign for the F.M. Kirby Center went from the quiet phase to shouting from the hilltops Wednesday, and what better way to make some noise than with a dinosaur show.
Now before you try to figure out how many dinosaurs can fit in the Public Square theater, know that the “Raise the Curtain” campaign went public with a free live performance of the PBS show “Jim Henson Dinosaur Train.” Families who are clients of several social services agencies were invited to watch the performance that will be presented again at 2:30 and 6:30 p.m. today.
Marilyn Santarelli, executive director at the Kirby, said Wednesday’s performance was the Kirby’s way of thanking the public for supporting the center for 25-plus years.
The fundraising campaign began 18 months ago in what Director of Development Brian Gill called “the quiet phase” and $3.1 million of the $5 million goal already has been raised. Gill said the public, or community phase, hopefully will raise the balance.
Gill said the money raised has been earmarked for capital improvements at the Kirby: a new sound system, lighting system and a heating/air conditioning/HVAC system. The sound system has been installed and the other improvements will be completed by spring 2014, Gill said.
The remaining dollars needed to be raised will help pay for the Kirby’s arts and education programming and other community outreach events.
“Those programs need a constant refreshing of funds,” Gill said.
The campaign actually began in 2011 during the Kirby’s 25th anniversary celebration — the center opened on Sept. 19, 1986.
“This campaign addresses what is needed to keep the Kirby open for the next 25 years,” Gill said.
Gill explained the campaign was not publicly announced 18 months ago because the initial phase was aimed at longtime Kirby supporters.
“It’s called working from the inside out,” Gill said. “This is by far the largest capital campaign the Kirby has ever undertaken.”
Gill, Will Beekman, director of programming, and Anne Rodella, marketing manager, said the Kirby has been a sound organization for years and a successful capital campaign will ensure it will be able to continue to fulfill its mission.
Gill said the Kirby’s annual budget is around $3 million and 40 percent of those dollars comes from development/fundraising. The rest of the revenue is generated from ticket sales and rentals.
Earlier in the day, a “Raise the Curtain” banner measuring 12 feet by 17 feet, was unfurled from the top of the performing arts center.
Beekman said Friday night’s Alice Cooper performance at the 1,832-seat theater is sold out.
Rodella said 10 agencies participated in Wednesday night’s free performance of Dinosaur Train: United Way, Maternal and Family Health, Luzerne County Head Start, Jewish Community Alliance, Family Service Association, YMCA, Commission on Economic Opportunity, Consumer Credit Counseling, CYC and Domestic Violence Service Center.