By Michele RobertsonAh, nostalgia, that sentimental longing for the past, especially when it brings back memories that make you smile. The Cavern Theater is one-stepcloser to opening its doors again and welcoming patrons to relive the past and create new memories while enjoying an evening out in downtown Carlsbad, New Mexico. The Cavern Theater is located at 210 N Canyon and was designated a historical building in2008, then donated to the City of Carlsbad in 2014 by the Light and Rogers families. A committee was formed in 2015 to take on the responsibility of seeing to the theater’s rehabilitation. Phase three for the rehabilitation of the historic Cavern Theater was recently completed, shares Ken Britt, Chair of the Cavern Theater Rehabilitation Committee. “We’re real happy with where we are at now, in terms of construction,” Britt said.Phases one and two included asbestos abatement, new electricity, the marquee rehabilitation, new roof, HVAC units, and new alarm systems. Phase three brought in an ADA restroom, rehabilitation of the original restrooms, painting, and new rear doors, among others. “The lobby is about 95% complete” shared Larry Mitchell, project architect with Mitchell and Cruse Architecture. “Phase four is halfway through the design development stage,”“The design and cost estimate for phase four should be finished by the end of May 2021” added Britt. Phase four will include stage buildout, stage lighting and curtains, sound system, auditorium acoustics and video/film projection system, install new lighting, seats, projection room and cry room rehabilitation, painting, and construct concession stand. “Our goal is to rehabilitate the theater to the way it was when it opened in 1951,” Britt said. The committee is working closely with the Historic Preservation Division, “we enjoy a very positive relationship with their office,” he added. This relationship, along with open communication is helping to preserve the unique features of the Cavern Theater. Including a mother/daughter bathroom stall, two cry rooms, and two well-preserved murals depicting scenes from Carlsbad Caverns. The Rock of Ages and Hall of Giants murals illuminate under blacklight on the walls inside the theater and are a sight to behold, even when they are covered for protection. Britt shared that if funding could come together in 2021, there is a possibility that phase four could be finished in 2022. The possibilitiesfor entertainment downtown will expand greatly when the theater is able to open its doors once again. “The Theatre will be a multi-functioning performing arts space that will allow for film, musicals, concerts, plays and so much more. It will allow fora large variety of performing arts that will cater for all sorts of interests in our community, as well as allowing people to experience an art that they may not have previously known about,” said Kat Davis, Executive Director for the Pearl of the Pecos Arts and Cultural District. “So much work has gone into the rehabilitation of the Cavern Theatre and I am excited for all that is to come to the Arts & Cultural District of Carlsbad once those doors are open,” Davis added.Not only will the cultural experiences available in Carlsbad expand with the opening, economic opportunities will increase as well. “The Cavern Theatre will be a huge economic driver in itself, but will also bring economic vitality to the other businesses in the district. Restaurants will see more people making reservations on event nights, and local businesses will have more foot traffic and visibility,” Ashly Key, Executive Director of Carlsbad MainStreet Project Inc., shared. “The rehabilitation of the Cavern Theatre will be a great addition to the MainStreet District and will bring our community and visitors together to highlight amazing talents. MainStreet looks forward to the growth this will bring to Carlsbad,” said Key. . If you are interested in supporting the rehabilitation of Carlsbad’s historic Cavern Theater, you may do so by sending your contribution to the Carlsbad Community Foundation. Please include Cavern Theater Fund on the memo line. If you’re out and about after dark one evening, take a cruise downtown and check out the marquee lit up at the theater.
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