Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center

Client Spotlight: Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center

Grant Applied For: ARC POWER

Grant Funding Awarded: $1.5 million

For nearly 100 years, the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center, in Huntington, West Virginia, has been a hub for cultural arts experiences in the tri-state region, alongside Ohio, and Kentucky. Now, as a result of federal grant funding, the historic theater will continue to instill appreciation for the arts for generations to come.

The Keith-Albee opened its doors in 1928, quickly becoming a gem of the Jewel City. Since then, the ornate auditorium has played host to countless local, national, and global artists, performers, and films, drawing audiences from near and far in the process.

“The City of Huntington has long recognized the importance of the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center to the community as a venue for quality arts and entertainment, its architectural importance, and as a bastion of city heritage,” said Terry Deppner Hardin, the Keith-Albee’s director of development. “It is the last fully intact atmospheric theatre designed by architect Thomas Lamb in the United States.”

In recent years, however, the well-loved theater was starting to show its age, and the costs of restoration, renovation, and additions, added up quickly. Time was another concern, Hardin added.

“If the deterioration continues much longer,” Hardin said, “the theater will not be operational and able to host cultural events for the benefit of the community. Sadly, a historic site has the potential to be lost forever.”

In an effort to keep the theater and its legacy alive, Hardin and the Keith-Albee Board of Directors began searching for funding opportunities. They set their sights on the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative to support infrastructural repairs.

“These infrastructure improvements are necessary in order to move forward with the goals of driving economic growth for the City, providing additional opportunities for arts and entertainment, and increasing educational programming, especially for children and seniors.”

Although Hardin had previous grant writing experience, she reached out to the West Virginia Grant Resource Centers for technical support with the ARC POWER Initiative and its comprehensive requirements.

“I personally felt that the WV Grant Resource Centers would be perfect to provide me assistance with the coal impact data, the coal impact narrative, and how the proposed scope of work and the project’s goals aligned with the ARC Strategic Investment Goals and the POWER Investment Priorities.”

Hardin began working with two members of the Grant Centers’ team, Co-Director Morgan Saunders and Grant Writer Emily Brammer, with whom she instantly connected.

“This was a very important grant application for the Keith-Albee,” Hardin said. “Fortunately, Emily and I share a very similar writing style, and our sections merged as though there was one author/one voice in writing the grant application. Emily was also familiar with the Keith-Albee and had a passion for the theater. Morgan provided oversight and review assistance with the Proposed Budget and the Match and Funding Sources. Both ladies were easily accessible, accommodating, and very professional.”

In late 2023, Hardin and the Keith-Albee team were awarded a $1.5 million grant from the ARC POWER Initiative to support various renovations, program expansions, accessible additions, waterproofing, and more repairs.

Hardin said she was ecstatic to share the big news with Saunders and Brammer.

“I was thrilled when the ARC awarded us the $1.5 million POWER grant and was excited to share the news with Morgan and Emily. I truly felt we were a team and shared an esprit de corps and pride in the results.”

Building on the ARC-funded project progress, the Keith-Albee is now moving forward in its six-phase Renovation Plan. Hardin said the knowledge and resources she gained from the Grant Centers will help tremendously as the Keith-Albee team applies for funding again in the future.

The West Virginia Grant Resource Centers are a collaborative partnership between Marshall University and West Virginia University dedicated to assisting West Virginians in developing competitive grant applications. Our efforts are focused on the pre-award process, providing applicants with support to identify funding opportunities, assemble compelling proposals, and submit completed application packages.

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