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The Las Cruces Community Theatre (LCCT) began its first capital campaign fundraiser on Monday, Sept. 15, during an informal ceremony held at the historic State Theater, 313 N. Main St., which has been the organization’s home since 1977.

“For those who are not aware, this building does not belong to the community theater,” said LCCT President Janet Beatty-Payne in an introductory presentation to the small but enthusiastic crowd. “We have been leasing it for 37 years. We’ve been really blessed, but now it’s time to make this building our permanent home.”

Janet Beatty-Payne welcomes guests to the Las Cruces Community Theatre during the kick-off of the organization's capital campaign fundraiser.

Janet Beatty-Payne welcomes guests to the Las Cruces Community Theatre during the kick-off of the organization’s capital campaign fundraiser.

After thanking the owners of the building for their years as gracious landlords, Beatty-Payne said the real expenses will be much needed renovations to the building, which would include enlarging and bringing the restrooms up to ADA code, rewiring the entire building and installing refrigerated air conditioning.

“We need a million dollars to do all that,” she said.

Mark and Stephanie Medoff were special guests for the evening, along with Executive Director for the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico Luan Wagner Burn, Executive Director of the Downtown Las Cruces Partnership Carrie La Tour and Executive Director of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce Carrie Hamblen.

Mark and Stephanie Medoff were special guests for the evening, along with Executive Director for the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico Luan Wagner Burn, Executive Director of the Downtown Las Cruces Partnership Carrie La Tour and Executive Director of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce Carrie Hamblen.

The evening fundraiser was overseen by Executive Director Luan Wagner Burn of the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico, which will be acting as fiscal agent for the project.

Special guests were award-winning playwright Mark Medoff and his wife Stephanie, who donated $5,000 to start the campaign.

“I would not be a playwright if, in 1966, during my first year teaching at New Mexico State University, some of my collegues who were involved with the community theater, which was in its third year at that time, had not said to me, ‘why don’t you write a play and we’ll put it on.’” Medoff said. “I thought it was an interesting idea. My first play was done at the Fountain Theater and it changed my life. Truly I would not be the writer I am today, were it not for the people involved in this theater over the years.”

Playwright Mark Medoff acknowledged LCCT for giving him his start and presented a $5,000 check, on behalf of he an his wife Stephanie, to get the campaign off the ground.

Playwright Mark Medoff acknowledged LCCT for giving him his start and presented a $5,000 check, on behalf of he an his wife Stephanie, to get the campaign off the ground.

Later in the evening, long time patrons and season ticket holders J.E. and June Lee matched the Medoff’s donation, to bring the beginning total up to $10,000. Members of LCCT’s board of directors were available to talk about the future of the building and accept donations from other patrons.

Burn, contributors J.E. and June Lee, Beatty-Payne, the Medoffs and LCCT Vice President of Membership Monte Wright celebrate the success of the capital campaign.

Burn, contributors J.E. and June Lee, Beatty-Payne, the Medoffs and LCCT Vice President of Membership Monte Wright celebrate the success of the capital campaign.

Also present to show support was Carrie La Tour, executive director of the Downtown Las Cruces Partnership and Carrie Hamblen, executive director of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce, who also facilitated a ribbon cutting to commemorate the event.

Carrie Hamblen, executive director of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce, read the proclamation welcoming LCCT's efforts to purchase the State Theater on Main Street.

Carrie Hamblen, executive director of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce, read the proclamation welcoming LCCT’s efforts to purchase the State Theater on Main Street.

“It’s a huge step to purchase a building,” Hamblen said after the ceremony. “The Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce is very pleased to support the Las Cruces Community Theatre in their commitment to purchase the State Theater. It’s very indicative of their commitment toward creating a vibrant downtown.”

Beatty-Payne cuts the ribbon and Wright holds the proclamation, surrounded by well-wishers at LCCT's entrance.

Beatty-Payne cuts the ribbon and Wright holds the proclamation, surrounded by well-wishers at LCCT’s entrance.

This story originally appeared as a news item in the September 19, 2014 issue of the Las Cruces Bulletin. All rights reserved.

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