COLDWATER – With the arrival of cold weather, Tibbits Opera Foundation and Arts Council, Inc. announced the replacement of the 50-year-old boilers in the historic Tibbits Opera House.
While the heat is on and working well, the effort to raise the funds to cover the improvement continues. According to Christine Delaney, Tibbits Executive Director, “We are extremely thankful for the support we’ve received so far from many of the area service clubs and others. We are also thankful for the contractors – especially Aker and Bracy Jahr – who completed the work in time for the winter weather, even as fundraising continues.”
Since the 1960s Tibbits has been heated by two boilers located in a small building behind the theatre. In recent years, one boiler now beyond repair was used for parts to keep the second boiler operating. Extensive repairs to the second boiler last winter kept the system working for a short period. Another needed repair, however, forced its early shutdown for the balance of the season. Tibbits is an active facility providing arts, cultural, educational and entertainment programming for the community and utilized by some 20 different organizations and schools for various programs and special events. Tibbits’ extensive winter schedule would be impossible without heat in the building.
As a nonprofit, Tibbits depends on community support. According to Delaney, “The challenge with a project of this scope is raising the necessary funds without impacting the annual giving.” She explained membership and events like the recent auction raise money for the everyday expenses of the historic theatre. If we were to use those funds for the boiler we would have a shortfall in other areas.
To date Tibbits is $18,000 shy of the $61,500 total project cost. Donations have been received from Coldwater Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club of Coldwater, Altrusa International of Branch County, Coldwater Exchange Club, Branch County Community Theatre, Quincy Rotary Club, The Smith Memorial Concert, and several private donors. Tibbits also received a capital improvement grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs as well as a rebate grant from Efficiency UNITED.
The old boilers have been replaced with two high-efficiency natural gas boilers. The project also required repairs to the building in which the boilers are housed to protect the new equipment and improve the boilers’ efficiency. The energy-efficient units are expected to provide an immediate savings in the utilities for the theatre.
Tibbits Opera House built in 1882 is owned and operated by the Tibbits Opera Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 1962. Its mission is “to engage all in arts, culture, education and the preservation of the historic opera house.” To support the theatre’s general operations or specifically the boiler project, go online to Tibbits.org, stop at the Tibbits offices at 93 W. Chicago St., Coldwater 9-5 Mon. through Fri., or call 517.278.6029.