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An anonymous donor has offered up to $100,000 in an effort to expedite fundraising efforts for Verona Area Community Theater’s planned new home.

The theater group has been fundraising for more than a year to move from its current location on Verona’s South Side to a more central location near the intersection of Verona Avenue and Lincoln Street, just behind the city’s new $10 million fire station.

Madison-based CaS4 Architecture has already designed an estimated $2.1 million facility for the group, but while fundraising has been steady, it’s still well short of the $1.6 million goal the theater’s board of directors aimed for in order to break ground.

The anonymous donation, announced this week by Madison Community Foundation, is meant to bridge that gap by raising as much as $300,000. The donor has pledged to match 50 percent of donations, up to $100,000, between now and the end of February.

Brennan Nardi, a spokeswoman for Madison Community Foundation, declined to release any details about the donor.

Theater board president Terry Dvorak praised the gift, especially as other local entities, including the library and Verona Area Historical Society, are competing for donors’ generosity on projects.

“I am beyond amazed and touched that anybody is willing to recognize the importance of this project. Obviously somebody that generous truly believes this is a worthwhile project,” Dvorak said.

So far, the organization has about $750,000 in personal pledges and $50,000 in its own savings account that it plans to use. It also has received $100,000 in in-kind donations and is planning on $360,000 from the sale of its current property to the city of Verona. Still, the organization is about $500,000 shy of a threshold where it feels comfortable breaking ground, Dvorak said.

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“I’m hopeful it’s going to bring in $300,000 and get us close to our finish line so we can pull the trigger,” she said.

VACT currently puts on eight shows a year and rehearses in a roughly 5,000-square-foot warehouse-like building in a Verona industrial park.

Plans for the new facility call for more than doubling VACT’s current space to 13,850 square feet, with increased costume storage and an intimate 150-seat theater, where the organization would stage some of its smaller shows.

VACT would continue to host its larger productions at Verona High School.

But the biggest improvement would be the inclusion of four different rehearsal spaces, enabling the theater organization to run several shows simultaneously. The added rehearsal space is key in helping VACT to accommodate the rapid participation growth it’s seen in its children’s program, Dvorak said.

“Our auditions are Saturday for a children’s show here,” Dvorak said. “We’ll probably have 160 kids come out for 80 to 90 spots. In this new space, we have the ability to cast two complete casts of the same show and rehearse them.”

Community members pay a mere $5 to join VACT, which requires them to pitch in on shows and allows them to vote on the next year’s productions. Cast members pay up to $20 to cover the cost of their script and show T-shirt. By contrast, many area theater companies charge hundreds of dollars for youth classes and participation in a show.

If fundraising is successful, VACT plans to break ground on the new building this spring.

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