Carrie Rengers

Music Theatre Wichita raising money to buy warehouse

Music Theatre Wichita rents out sets, such as this one from 2016’s “Beauty and the Beast,” and stores them in two warehouses, one of which it owns and one of which it hopes to own.
Music Theatre Wichita rents out sets, such as this one from 2016’s “Beauty and the Beast,” and stores them in two warehouses, one of which it owns and one of which it hopes to own. Courtesy photo

Board members and friends of Music Theatre Wichita have recommended the nonprofit purchase a warehouse it’s been renting.

“The board feels really strongly that we should purchase,” says development director Angela Cassette.

She says that after a decade of paying on a space, “Whether you own it or not, you’ve paid for it.”

MTW has rented 30,000 square feet at 811 E. 10th St. for a couple of years. It also owns a 19,500-square-foot building at 1012 N. Washington.

The buildings, which are a couple of blocks apart, house sets and costumes used in the theater’s shows. MTW rents out the sets and costumes to other theaters.

MTW builds sets for two or three shows every summer. The others out of the five it puts on annually are reused from past shows it has done.

Rentals are 10 percent of the theater’s annual $4 million operating budget.

The second warehouse is $660,000.

“To carry a huge amount of debt on that size of budget doesn’t seem wise,” Cassette says.

MTW is trying to raise $200,000 of the building’s price in advance. There’s a $75,000 matching grant from the Wallace Foundation. Including that, the theater so far has raised about $100,000.

Cassette says it’s clear people are interested in the warehouses and their contents.

When MTW participated in the Art Day of Giving a couple of times by offering tours of the Washington warehouse, it was a popular attraction.

“We’ve been really amazed how many people come out and find it really interesting and enjoy seeing what we do,” Cassette says.

While she says it would be great to raise even more than $200,000, “We’ve just been really pleased so far by the community response.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers

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