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MSU announces $500,000 gift to summer theater project

From left to right, Chad Gifford, director of summer theater, Rick Hedberg, vice president for advancement at MSU, and MSU president Steve Shirley, accept a gift from Jason Zimmerman, president of the Minot Area Community Foundation, on Wednesday.

The Minot Area Community Foundation has announced a $500,000 gift to Minot State University to support a project to renovate the MSU Summer Theatre.

According to information provided by Minot State, the gift will create a pool of matching funds that will offer donors an opportunity to double their impact with a one-to-one match. The $500,000 will be accessed only once the $500,000 in matching funds from private donors has been raised.

“We’ve got to get out and raise some money,” said Rick Hedberg, vice president for advancement. “We need your help.”

Donors to the project will be recognized on a permanent recognition board that will be on display at the amphitheater.

Ground could be broke on the project yet this fall if funds are raised. Officials said they have ideas for fundraising.

Andrea Johnson/MDN Isabella Anderson, 14, and her father, Justin Anderson, performed a song from “Beauty and the Beast” on Wednesday during a press conference to announce a $500,000 gift from the Minot Area Community Foundation to support the renovation of the Minot State University Summer Theatre.

The summer theater, located north of Minot State, is more than 50 years old.

A campaign to raise funds for its renovation were announced last summer. The planned updates include relocation of the main restrooms from the upper level to the ground level of the complex, relocating some of the seating to provide aisles with hand railings, increasing access for people with disabilities, enhancing and expanding the cast dressing rooms and the box office/ticketing area, adding a canopy to the cover the center stage, renovating the orchestra pit, and landscaping the area.

Steve Shirley, president of Minot State, said the community theater has given many performers from Minot State and the surrounding community the opportunity to showcase their talents and the theater is an important community draw. Generations of families have enjoyed performances there.

The new coronavirus has put a damper on the summer theater as well as on other activities this summer, but summer theater director Chad Gifford said performers are finding new ways to share their talents. An improv show was to be streamed on Facebook on Wednesday. Shirley, Gifford, and Hedberg all expressed gratitude for the gift made by the Minot Area Community Foundation. Jason Zimmerman, president of Minot Area Community Foundation, said this gift matches the second largest gift ever made by the Minot Area Community Foundation.

“The Minot Area Community Foundation is a 501(c) (3) public charity. It is 20 years old and has given back more than $17.7 million to the community,” according to MSU.

People who would like to make a donation to the summer theater renovation project can contact the MSU Development Foundation at 858-3890 or online at MSUSummerTheatre.com.

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