The Salt Lake County Council and Murray City Council have committed millions of dollars to fund renovations at the 80-year old Murray Theater.
“Salt Lake County is always looking for a broad array of cultural facilities,” said Chloe Morroni, Salt Lake County communications director. “We believe that this continues to serve the residents of Salt Lake County.”
Murray and Salt Lake County donated a combined $3.7 million grant, and city officials are hoping to match government funding with donations from local businesses and Murray residents.
“We want to make sure that the community has ownership of this, this is the community’s theater,” said Peter Klinge, a member of the Murray Arts Advisory Board. “It’s important to have the community rally around us to support this as an ongoing project.”
The city purchased the Murray Theater from private owners in 2015 with hopes of renovating the 1938 structure.
“It’s just been around for so long and so many people connect with it, I spent a lot of time there as a child, so it personally means a lot to me,” said Lori Edmunds, Murray cultural arts manager.
When the theater first opened, it housed movie showings, then, after undergoing a series of ownerships throughout its 80-year-history, featured ballet performances, wrestling matches and live performances, including one by singer Adele in 2009 as she was on trajectory to becoming an international star.
Klinge also said preserving the theater’s historic value is of utmost importance to the advisory board.
“Murray has a rich history for performing arts,” he said. It was an important part of the community in its early decades "because it gave the people that were too far away from Salt Lake some entertainment.”
Edmunds said the renovated theater fits into a larger revitalization of Murray’s historic downtown.
“Murray really delights in its history, and we have a lot of historic homes and the historic districts, several structures on the national historic register,” Edmunds said. “History is really valued and so when we get this building done it will be sort of the start of the new historic downtown regeneration, we’re gonna be doing some different things in that downtown area that should revitalize the area.”
As far as the renovations go, Edmunds said the theater needs more of a “face lift” than an entire overhaul.
“The structure itself is in pretty decent conditions but we’re in the process of hiring an architect group,” to touch up some of the lights and other electrical portions of the theater, Edmunds said.
The theater’s amphitheater is currently in use, and various performing arts companies use it for rehearsals, but it is “not in use for patrons,” Klinge said.
Edmunds expects the renovations to be complete by 2022.