COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WKBN) — A new owner has given Columbiana’s Main Street Theater another shot.
Since 1953, the Main Street Theater has been a community staple. But since the start of the pandemic, it has been dormant.
Last year, the building was put up for sale.
The Columbiana Cultural Collective was tasked with raising approximately $1.1 million in less than a year.
“It looked dark. It looked like that wasn’t going to happen,” said Erich Offenburg, executive director of the Columbiana Area Chamber of Commerce.
Through donations and fundraising, they were only able to raise about $20,000, but since it was a pandemic, there wasn’t much to do.
“Fundraising during a pandemic is a difficult thing,” said Offenburg.
Over the past few months, John and Beth Kufleitner have stepped in.
John Kufleitner said his wife wanted to see the community hold a theater, as well as the fact that their son with special needs had been in several shows there.
“As soon as I got the call from John and Beth, I was impressed with their generosity,” Offenburg said.
They were able to agree on a price with the previous owners.
In a statement from the Kufleitners, they do so solely out of philanthropy and in no way seek to profit from it. The plan is to buy it back in five years. John Kufleitner said they wouldn’t charge interest.
This gives them a head start.
“[John] came up to us and said, ‘We’re going to buy this. You can buy it from us. We don’t want to own a theatre; we just want to help you get started, and to help you get started, we’re going to donate $100,000,” Offenburg said.
Offenburg said he had other donors willing to donate, and the shows would help fund the investment.
“Something about every night here, whether it’s a movie, whether it’s music, whether it’s live theater, visual arts, classes, all kinds of things that go on,” said said Offenburg.
The Collective still needs to get its state certifications and COVID policies in place before reopening the theater.