Fox Theater and UWSP partner to market site
Sari Lesk, Stevens Point Journal Media 9:12 p.m. CDT October 2, 2014
A six-image panorama by John Hartman, stitched into one photo, shows University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point students who are working on the Fox on Main’s marketing campaign. (Photo: JOHN HARTMAN/CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHY )
STEVENS POINT – Leaders in charge of reviving the historic Fox on Main theater say the project is shifting from an investigative phase into a design phase, and it is doing so with some new star power and help from students.
Greg Wright, president of the Fox on Main board of directors, said the board is finishing up its business plan and determining how to build a sustainable business model for the site and is looking to hire an architect to design a rehab plan.
He said recent announcements in the city by businesses planning to hire hundreds of new employees, such as Skyward and Berkshire Hathaway, are encouraging for the theater's future. He said the theater will serve as a source of entertainment that will attract young professionals to the area.
"We recognize for Stevens Point to sustain that employment level, it needs entertainment," Wright said.
The board also is beginning presentations at local service organizations to spread its message and share its research. Wright said the main purpose of the presentations is not for fundraising at this point, although contributions are appreciated.
He said a capital campaign will begin when the board has more information about renovation costs.
The board also has forged a new partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point to help with marketing for the project. Local photographer John Hartman said the board's marketing team is working with a university graphic design class, taught by Jillian Noble, to help develop a plan to promote the theater.
Hartman said the students are working on signs, business cards, a website and more to help define the theater's identity.
"It's really nice to have these young people who are going to be out in the world doing this in a few months," he said. "It's nice for them to have a real world project."
Noble said the project gives her students an opportunity to experience a client-directed project.
"There are a lot of practical business practices that go with being a professional graphic designer," Noble said. "They practice what they're learning at that same time they're learning it."
One of the first marketing steps — one that seems sure to generate buzz — is a video the board created in which locally born celebrities explain why they think the Fox deserves to be reborn. The video features comedian Tim Bedore, actress Kathy Kinney (Mimi of "The Drew Carey Show" fame), attorney Terry Kawles, musician Dan Myers, director Peggy Rajski and architect Nick Wallin, who serve on the Fox on Main advisory board.
Bedore, who grew up in Stevens Point and now lives in the Twin Cities when he is not on the road with his "Vague But True" comedy tour, said he's found through his work that that most of the happiest people in the country are in small towns, which share the commonality of having a theater downtown.
"It just kind of makes for some character for the town," he said.
Bedore said he had nothing but fond memories growing up in the area and that the theater presents opportunities for young people interested in performing or creating. He said he wanted to contribute his time to revive a theater where he may one day get to perform.
Sari Lesk can be reached at 715-345-2257. Follow her on Twitter as @Sari_Lesk.