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Historic Dunbar Theater launches restoration project

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – Built in 1941, the historic Dunbar Theater in Wichita served as the only movie theater for the African-American community until 1963.

The theatre, named after Lawrence Dunbar, is currently being restored. The historic Dunbar Theater has been restored, completing its first phase of creating a community centre.

“This building was the cornerstone of this community so many years ago, and they need it. They want it back, and clearly, it’s got everyone’s hearts racing already. Watch how hard they work to make sure that happens,” Governor Laura Kelly said.

Theater represents history.

Adrienne McAlpine, Media and Community Relations Representative for Power CDC, says, “As you can see, my shirt says black wall. It was a hub for the African American community in the 1940s and 50s. When there was segregation, and that’s where African Americans could come too. They had ice cream shops. Some businesses were thriving.

With this restoration project, the end goal is to bring more life to this community.

“It will make a huge difference. It will give kids in our community somewhere to go this summer to keep them off the streets and out of trouble,” said Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau.

There are three phases in the project. When all three phases are complete, there will be a community common space, a visual arts center and a 325-seat theater for residents of the surrounding community to enjoy.

Governor Kelly said, “What will this do for the pride of the people in this community, what will this do for the children. The opportunities they will be exposed to through this theatre. It’s just amazing.

Adrienne says it’s now a community center, but the end goal is to have a proud performing arts theater and bring theater back to Wichita.

To get involved in this project, you can donate money to Power CDC to help complete the remaining two phases. Dial (316) 267-3036.

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