The Great Wall of Xenia

By Alan King

A firewall. Not so complicated, you would think. It separates one building from another or one section of a space from another to protect the people on one side from a fire on the other side. Good idea. But in the case of the new theater space for Xenia’s fledgling Area Community Theater, it has turned into a colossal roadblock. As many of you may know, X*ACT recently purchased the old Buckminn’s Harley Davidson building at 45 E. Second St. in order to create a downtown arts venue. They plan to produce plays, musicals, community arts events, gallery shows, art classes, theater workshops, and many other events to help Xenia grow as a creative community.

Prior to moving to Second St., X*ACT rented a small 40 seat loft space on S. Detroit St. and also put on community theater productions at such diverse locations as the Xenia Municipal Court chambers, the Greene Memorial Hospital auditorium, and several local churches. These venues were adequate for the small productions that they could accommodate, and they proved that there is an audience in the Xenia area for amateur theater and a pool of talented local actors willing to put in the time and work required to make great shows happen. All that was needed was a larger permanent theater space.

As a result of the generous support of John and Connie Smith, owners of Buckminn’s Harley Davidson, and the hard work of the citizen directors of X*ACT and other community leaders, down payment money was raised and the building was acquired in 2007 and planning was begun to create a modern theater space for our local thespians.

The first thing that was needed for X*ACT to survive and thrive was a steady stream of income to pay the utilities and the mortgage on the new building. Given the location and the existing layout of the building, the Second Act Thrift Store seemed like a logical move. As a nonprofit organization, X*ACT was in a favorable position to accept good secondhand merchandise, staff the store with volunteers and turn one person’s trash into the community’s treasures.

Second Act has been operating for well over a year now and has met its mandate of providing a steady stream of income as well as a good source of stage props and costumes for various X*ACT productions. It has also presented a bit of a problem for the Greene County building inspectors who have been working with X*ACT to turn the rear half of the building into theater space. In order to combine a commercial space with a public gathering space, it has turned out to be necessary to construct a firewall between the spaces.

To make a long story short, plans have now been approved and with help from Security National Bank, construction of the Great Wall of Xenia has now begun in earnest. But the price tag, which was originally estimated to be in the $30,000 range, has ballooned to over $75,000 in order to meet building code requirements. And X*ACT, like many other nonprofit organizations is facing a falloff in donations due to the current economic downturn. So they are turning to the Xenia area community for help. They are asking for sponsors, donors, and angels of any stripe to step up and give whatever they can to get the Great Wall built.

If you have always wanted to have a theater named after your mother, if you would like to have the stage dedicated to your father, if you would find a special thrill in having your name on a brass plaque in the theater lobby or on a theater seat, let them hear from you. If you want to sponsor a few 2X6’s in the Great Wall, if you want to donate the cost of a fire door, if your company wants to donate a hundred gallons of paint, they need your help. If you want to sponsor theater workshops for children, if you have good used furniture to donate, if you are willing to work a few hours in the Thrift Store each month, let them know. Stop in a and buy a winter coat or a blender. In short, no donation or offer of help is too small or too large.

A community theater reflects the vitality of its locale. It raises the tone of the city. It projects a sense of an intelligent and creative community to potential businesses and home buyers who are thinking about moving to our home town. One of the greatest things about Xenia is the commitment of our citizens to maintain and improve our city. Be a part of something good for Xenia. Support X*ACT’s Great Wall building project. For more information visit the Second Act Thrift Store, their website at www.XeniaAct.org or phone Executive Director Orion Monroe at (937) 372-0516

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