Paramount Theatre Raises Curtain on Act 2

A new capital campaign for the Paramount Theatre in Aurora got a big boost from their first donor.

The Dunham Fund donated $2.5 million to the Paramount’s Act 2 Capital Campaign – the largest grant the theatre has ever received.

That money will be used to help fund a number of new projects the theatre will be taking on – starting with the creation of the Paramount School of the Performing Arts, a center to help grow local talent.

“Give them an opportunity, to I think explore, discover and enhance their talents in artistic areas,” said Tom Weisner, former mayor of Aurora and the chairman of Paramount’s Act 2 Capital Campaign.

The school will be adjacent to the theater in a building that will be known as the John C. Dunham Aurora Art Center.

The campaign also includes plans to refurbish all 1,888 seats at the Paramount, which are showing their nearly 87 years of wear and tear.

And a final project will be the restoration of the Copley Theatre, giving the interior a full upgrade, and preparing it for its new purpose as a venue for new works: original productions that will be seen for the first time at the Copley.

The theatre’s six-fold growth over the past few years from 50,000 patrons to 350,000 seemed ample reason to launch the new initiatives, which management feel will help not just the theatre, but the surrounding area as well.

“It’s a nice little boost to the economy. The restaurants need it, the retail needs it, and one of the most natural economic boosts the community can do is to stand behind their arts and to make sure that people want and are able to go see them,” said Tim Rater, President and CEO of the Aurora Civic Center Authority, which runs the Paramount Theatre.

The total cost of the projects will be about $4.5 million. The Dunham Fund donation has put them more than halfway there.

Naperville News 17’s Kim Pirc reports.

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