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Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Director Brad Hall Boost Lompoc Theatre Revival With Donation

Project to restore and reopen historical facility receives first major donation

Organizers working to renovate the Lompoc Theatre announced a major donation toward their cause this week. Click to view larger
Organizers working to renovate the Lompoc Theatre announced a major donation toward their cause this week. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Restoration of the historic Lompoc Theatre gained a big boost with a major financial donation from an Emmy Award-winning actress and her writer/director husband who has ties to Santa Barbara County.

Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus and her husband, writer/director Brad Hall, have made the first major donation to the Lompoc Theatre Project, the organization’s board members said Tuesday.

The donation — the amount wasn’t released  but organizers called it “substantial” — will launch the nonprofit’s capital campaign to restore and reopen the theater, an effort that reportedly will cost $6 million.

“To have the support from your friends is always special,” said Mark Herrier, president of the board of directors of the Lompoc Theatre Project. “But when your friends are renowned for their philanthropy, have worldwide reputations, and only donate to select causes that make a difference to our state, our nation, and our world; for them to include Lompoc as a part of that, is special indeed.”

Herrier grew up in Lompoc and went on act in the Porky’s and other productions, before returning to the Central Coast to lead the theater’s restoration.

“We are thrilled and honored to be involved in the Lompoc Theatre Project,” said Louis-Dreyfus, who appeared on Seinfeld and Veep. “We are firm believers that this theater will be the beating cultural heart of the community.”

Her husband met Herrier while they were students at Allan Hancock College and members of Pacific Conservatory Theatre (PCPA).

“I was born in Santa Barbara County, and can’t wait to see this project start, finish and flourish,” Hall said in a written statement. 

The group has held smaller fundraisers in the past couple of years, but the contribution from the couple is “easily the largest donation to date," said Laurie Jervis, Theatre Project spokeswoman. 

“We’re thrilled we’re beginning a relationship with them, they’ll be ongoing partners,’ Jervis added.

Lompoc Theatre Project leaders said the donation will pay for the removal of hazardous materials from inside the theater, which has been closed since the late 1980s. 

Since then, pigeons and other critters have moved into the now-dilapidated structure, originally built in 1927.

Earlier this year, the board completed testing for mold, asbestos and other potentially hazardous substances, and secured a quote from a professional remediation team. The cost of that work wasn’t released.

The next task calls for repairing and eventually replacing the roof, which has several leaks and other structural damage, with some $1 million needed for that project.

The Lompoc Theatre Project is working to reopen the theater, which marks its 90th anniversary next year, 

Plans unveiled December 2014 call for an expanded lobby, meeting room, rehearsal space and dressing rooms for performing artists, an outdoor courtyard and disabled access. 

The latest efforts to restore the Lompoc Theatre have involved successfully untangling it from a defunct nonprofit housing group, wrestling with liens and dealing with unpaid taxes. 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

The donation is expected to pay for removing hazardous materials inside the Lompoc Theatre, which has been closed since the 1980s. Click to view larger
The donation is expected to pay for removing hazardous materials inside the Lompoc Theatre, which has been closed since the 1980s.  (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

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