Orchestra Iowa receives much-needed grant - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Orchestra Iowa receives much-needed grant

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by Bryan Goettel

CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - "In the performing arts it really is about the event," Orchestra Iowa executive director Robert Massey said. "The hall says it all."

But today, the hall's doors are boarded up. Lights are broken and missing. The marquee sits empty.

It's the sad state that is the Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids, the home of Orchestra Iowa.

"The loss of the Paramount was devastating to the musicians," Massey said. "This was their home."

Since the flood cost the historic theatre millions, the orchestra has found other venues. But the first season away from home has cost them 20 percent of their ticket revenue.

"I know it's been frustrating for the community," Massey said. "It's been frustrating for us. The pace seems incredibly slow."

Greg Eyerly began his tenure as the Cedar Rapids flood recovery director on Monday. One of his first meetings discussed the Paramount's future.

"We're getting close on selecting an architect firm," Eyerly said. "We'll have that out soon."

Eyerly hopes to have a damage estimate by November. Then renovation plans can begin. Still, there's been concern about keeping the orchestra together. But a $25,000 grant as part of the economic stimulus package is coming at a critical time.

"It gives us a year to regroup," Massey said. "It gives us a year to find additional funding sources and it gives us a year to really build an audience, build a new audience who will discover Orchestra Iowa for the first time."

And Massey is hopeful the doors will be opened and lights will be on by the fall of 2012.

Online Reporter: Bryan Goettel

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