Saving Our State's Historic Theaters
The Historic Theater Grant Program is generously supported by funding from the Washington State Legislature. The grant program is housed within the Washington State Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation (DAHP), and managed under contract by the Washington Trust.
Established in 2020 as a Capital Budget Request, the program is aimed at recognizing and preserving historic theaters as an essential element to economic vitality and social health of any community— especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than 80 operating historic theaters remain in Washington. They are scattered in both small towns and urban neighborhoods. In fact, 25% of the theaters are located in communities with a population of under 5,000, and nearly 56% are in communities under 50,000. Most are owned and managed by individuals. As businesses, they contribute local economies in purchasing goods and products, employing people, and paying taxes. As venues for performances and film, they support an arts economy that ripples far beyond individual artists to include construction workers, graphic designers, electricians, and many other trades and services. Additionally, historic theaters are indispensable assets in developing cultural tourism—the fastest growing segment of the tourism market. Travel the Main Street of any American town and a theater will likely be there, anchoring the street and beckoning residents and visitors alike to lose themselves for a time in another world.
2021-2023 Historic Theater Capital Grants
The application period is open until Sunday – December 19, 2021 at 11:59pm.
See the featured video from our May 20 Vintage Washington event (featuring testimonials from Shara Forrister of The Princess Theater in Prosser and Larry Hibbard of the Ruby Theatre in Chelan), where we announced the addition of historic theaters across Washington State as a thematic listing in our Most Endangered Places program.
The new historic theater grant program established at the Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation was informed by a 2008 statewide survey and physical needs assessment conducted by Artifacts Consulting which profiled 80 of Washington State’s extant historic theaters. Check out the survey and StoryMap for more information!