Knoxville — Dylan Morse with the Grand Theater Foundation informs the Journal-Express that the organization has been granted its nonprofit status from the Internal Revenue Service.
The status will allow the foundation to apply for grants from local, regional and national foundations. Donations from others to the foundation can now also be tax-deductible.
The foundation is trying to raise a total of $500,000. This total would cover the bids for known renovations and providing flexibility for unknown issues that may arise.
According to Morse, the top priority is to raise $20,000 to purchase the contents of the building. Current owner, Fridley Theaters, is then expected to donate the building to the foundation as a charitable tax write-off.
The second priority is to raise another $20,000 to update the building's electrical system to accommodate updated projection and sound equipment. Morse said the foundation would like to keep two screens in the theater, which would necessitate purchasing two digital projectors to play first-run movies in Knoxville. The cost for the projectors and sound equipment for both theaters is $108,000. In the future, the foundation would like to update the bathrooms, the interior and facade.
"People should know that this project will not happen without their buy-in," Morse said. "We mean it when we say this is a community space and a community project. Without support from the community, it just won't happen. We're very hopeful that people will respond to our calls for donations of time and money, and we're very excited to hire as many local contractors as possible to revive this piece of Knoxville history."
The facade renovation, in part, is intended to use the building as an example to beautify downtown. Morse hopes other downtown property owners will see the finish product and try to learn more about what they can do to beautify Knoxville.