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Solvang theater celebrates donors who contributed to $5.1-million fundraising, renovation effort

Solvang Festival Theater Renovation Plaque, 2023
Posted at 9:09 PM, May 23, 2023

The Solvang Theaterfest celebrated on Tuesday more than 450 donors who contributed to a fundraising campaign that raised over $5.1 million.

A reception was held outside the Solvang Festival Theater where honorary plaques displaying individual and group donors were revealed.

The fundraising campaign, called “Imagine! Build the Future,” was a four-year effort to raise capital to renovate the 700-seat amphitheater, which culminated in what’s being described as “the county’s most attractive and up-to-date outdoor theater,” according to a Solvang Theater Fest press release.

“Tonight is the culmination of years of effort that go all the way back to 2015,” said Chris Nielsen to KSBY, who was the past chairman of the board of directors for the theater. “It was a lot of hard work by the board and a lot of commitment, not only by the board of directors but also by the community around us.”

The renovation project, completed in July 2022, upgraded the theater’s structural integrity, safety, and accessibility with new electrical and technical capabilities.

“Come see for yourself,” said Ann Foxworthy Lewellen to KSBY, who was the chair of the fundraising campaign. “It’s like a new era in this theater.”

The theater said the renovations improved audience experience and comfort through its “higher wall, acoustical improvements, and new seating.”

The “iconic” box office tower was named after Judge Royce R. Lewellen, who was one of the Solvang Festival Theater’s founding community members and one who continued to support the theater throughout the years, the press release said.

Now a seat-naming campaign is underway to honor those who wish to donate.

Donors can “enjoy having your name, a sentiment, anniversary date, or the name of another person you wish to honor laser engraved on an elegant bronze plaque placed on the back of a theater seat,” according to the Solvang Theater Fest website.