Guests will come dressed to the nines to mingle with friends, eat and drink, listen to live music and support the Liberty Theatre at the annual gala event.
The 2019 Liberty Gala happens Saturday, Nov. 16, at the Liberty Theatre in Astoria. It’s a chance for the community to fundraise for renovations of the historic building, including a renovated stage. The gala is a fundamental part of the theater’s multiyear fundraising campaign with a goal of raising $3.3 million.
Diane Tiedeman, the theater’s board president, said the funds will allow for much-needed upgrades so the Liberty would be able to put on Broadway-style productions.
“We want to increase the opportunity to draw different kinds of entertainment here that we haven’t been able to do in the past,” Tiedeman said.
At last year’s gala, the theater raised $300,000. Though it will be hard to beat, the hope is to raise even more on Saturday evening. After the theater received $1 million from the state Legislature this summer, $1.3 million has been raised since the campaign kicked off at the gala last year.
The list of planned renovations includes a bigger stage, backstage dressing rooms, extra restrooms, replacement of theater curtains, infrastructure maintenance and more.
“We’ve done a great job of renovating the theater space and we have a beautiful facility, but we need an adequate stage to really make the Liberty Theatre into what it can be for our community,” Tiedeman said. “It will have a tremendous impact for our businesses because we will be able to draw more and more patrons to see what we can put on.”
The public can expect to see some changes to the outside of the building to make it more noticeable from the street, she added. The Historic Landmarks Commission in July approved the addition of an enclosed glass vestibule for outside of the theater’s main entrance. The box office and concessions will also be renovated.
The theater building was constructed in 1924 and 1925 in an Italian Renaissance architectural style. The most recent restoration of the building was completed in 2006.
Champagne and chords
The gala will begin with a champagne welcome and reception, followed by raffle drawings and a live auction. Senator Betsy Johnson will be there to encourage participants to donate in whatever capacity they can.
“She’s done it for so many years for projects she wants to support,” Tiedeman said. “So we appreciate her coming to help us.”
After the fundraiser, guests will be treated to a performance by Siren Songs, a folk-Americana duo made up of Merideth Kaye Clark of Portland and Jenn Grinels of both Portland and Nashville. They will sing harmonies and play the guitar, viola and banjo and the audience can expect original music as well as new takes on famous folk songs.
“We have a lot of great stories from being on the road together, and since we’re best friends it’s a fun act,” Clark said. “But we hit you in the heart strings when we start singing.”
The two musicians have been solo artists for most of their careers and best friends for most of their lives. When Grinels moved to Portland last year, the two decided to combine forces and create an album, also called “Siren Songs.” Gala goers will get the chance to meet Clark and Grinels and buy the album.
“I have always admired the Liberty Theatre,” Clark said. “I think it’s really amazing that we’ll be part of raising money to help renovate it.”