To see the photo gallery that accompanies this story, click here. To download the Lime Kiln’s 2013 business plan, click here. And if you have any thoughts you want to share about the embattled theater’s campaign to make itself self-sustaining, feel free to leave them in the comments.LEXINGTON — The sound of splintering wood made a point more emphatically than words ever could.
As Theater at Lime Kiln Executive Director Tony Russell climbed a wooden stair on the famed Lime Kiln stage, a step cracked and broke loose beneath his feet.
He kept his balance and didn’t come to harm. Nonetheless, the near fall bolstered his argument.
Russell wants to raise nearly $400,000 by the end of this year to renovate the dilapidated landmark. Without the improvements, the nonprofit that runs the famed outdoor theater won’t survive, he said.
There’s little question that Lime Kiln sorely needs a makeover. There’s been almost no upkeep done since the theater’s first production in 1984. The three-story light tower for the Kiln’s main stage sports rotting wood and holes in its roof. The wooden stage in the amphitheater used for concerts floats away when it floods. The tent over the rain stage leaks — and can flood in a heavy downpour. The restrooms have backed up during big concerts.
Russell argues that with a facilities upgrade, he could fill Lime Kiln’s season with popular musical acts and make the struggling venue self-sustaining. As it stands, the deteriorating rain shelter limits the size of the audiences Lime Kiln can handle, and a string of emergency repairs has left the theater without money to cover next season’s operating expenses.
Yet Russell’s fundraising plan, which involves raising $100,000 in donations and $200,000 in combined funds from the Lexington and Rockbridge County governments, is far from surefire.