The Louisiana Black History Hall of Fame aims to breathe life back into Old South Baton Rouge’s Lincoln Theater, a goal the organization hopes to revitalize with a new fundraising drive. Although this isn’t the first time the group has tried to pull the old theater out of the dark, many believe it’s time for a sense of renewed community interest.
“This project is big, but it’s supposed to be big,” said Brenda Perry Dunn, the founder of both the LBHHF and the Lincoln Theater Foundation, at a fundraising kickoff held May 24. “Our goal is to offer a tourism destination of historical, educational, performing arts and entertainment (importance) like never before.”
The fundraising endeavor isn’t new. About three years ago, the LBHHF aimed to raise enough money to renovate the theater, but the dollars didn’t come in. In 2009, the Louisiana Black History Hall of Fame bought the building for $345,000, and the group joined forces with Baton Rouge’s Redevelopment Authority with the aim of reopening the facility with a renovated theater and a space for the Hall of Fame.
Those goals haven’t changed, but the timeline has, said Susannah Bing, director of finance and economic development for the Redevelopment Authority and project manager for the Lincoln Theater. The initial goal was to complete the project — renovate the building, create additional back-of-house space, purchase property for a small park and other upgrades — in one fell swoop, but organizers realized funding limitations prevented that.