It’s happened. The Black Hills Playhouse is back in Custer State Park.
“The generosity of donors from all over the country devoted to the BHP has been astounding.” says Linda Anderson, Executive Director. “It all started with strong leadership from Governor Daugaard. Custer State Park has partnered every step of the way. Corporations and foundations stepped forward to meet the urgent cause. Board, staff and partners worked tirelessly over the past few months. We are very proud of the team effort that helped us achieve this goal.”
South Dakota Legislation, passed in 2010, stipulated the Black Hills Playhouse would be awarded a new lease in Custer State Park if safety issues in primary buildings were addressed. In February, Governor Daugaard came out strongly in support of BHP remaining in Custer State Park and assisted the company with fundraising, including a $5000 donation from his campaign fund. Rapid City and Custer community events raised in excess of $57,000. The Black Hills Playhouse Alumni Association raised over $80,000.
Extensive renovations to the structure of the theater are in progress, along with safety upgrades for ADA and fire safety compliance. Other buildings are receiving improvements and a new dining hall is being built. The project has received support from the Black Hills Area Community Foundation, SD Community Foundation, John T. Vucurevich Foundation, Larson Foundation, First Interstate Custer Area Foundation, Sheldon F. Reese Foundation & Clarkson Foundation.
Immediate concerns now turn to finishing construction and producing the 2011 Season. Tickets are on sale for the plays, construction is underway, and cast and crew started arriving on May 23rd, with everyone racing to get the campus ready for audiences in mid-June.
“It feels good to be going home.” says Anderson. She adds that while this is just the first phase of improvements to the campus, it is a very important phase. “Living up to the mandate of the State and obtaining the lease was essential to creating a strong foundation for the company. It’s been a tough couple of years for the Playhouse and it feels really good to be moving things in the right direction. We are truly grateful for the community response that has made it possible to get back to our 66 year home in Custer State Park. We look forward to a successful 2011 Season.”
For more information on the Black Hills Playhouse, visit www.blackhillsplayhouse.com.