App Theatre sign

A new LED sign shines at the Appalachian Theatre in downtown Boone thanks to an Appalachian Regional Commission grant.

BOONE — The Appalachian Theatre has completed installation of its digital marquee and made other improvements following a $100,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission.

“Gone are the days when our marquee letters get frozen in their tracks,” said Appalachian Theatre Executive Director Laura Kratt.

ARC is a regional economic development agency that is comprised of a partnership between federal, state and local government. The grant to the theatre also provided LED stage lighting fixtures and other energy-efficient equipment to the venue, which reopened its doors last October after an eight-year, $10 million renovation and restoration that involved more than 500 volunteers and thousands of donors.

The ARC equipment grant represents a watershed moment for the project. It is the first federal funding to support the theater’s renovation and took years of careful planning to secure, officials said.

“This project is particularly impactful because it makes using the building more affordable by lowering event costs while expanding our capacity to provide theatrical and marketing services,” said Kratt. “It’s a great partnership because we share the ARC’s mission to innovate, partner and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia.”

“We initially wanted to replicate the original marquee and signage from the ... 1938 theatre,” said Bettie Bond, an Appalachian Theatre trustee who also serves on the Historic Preservation Commission for the town of Boone.

“It quickly proved unworkable due to the amount of labor required to manually change the letters, especially in high winds or during inclement weather,” Bond said. “It looks almost exactly the same as the original marquee.”

The Appalachian Regional Commission grant means that the theater can change messages from any remote location simply by logging on to a computer.

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