Ringing in a new era for the Clyde Theatre

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) –  Fort Wayne is bringing back an iconic city theater. On Thursday a $5 million renovation of the Clyde Theatre got underway.

Many of the people at the groundbreaking were thrilled that the next generation will get to experience the theater just like they did years ago. Percussionist Rick Kinney rang his handmade bell to mark the start of renovations at the Clyde Theatre. It was his love of music and performing arts that inspired him to buy the run down building in 2012.

“I’ve promoted concerts in Fort Wayne since I was 13 years old so I’ve been promoting concerts for 22 years,” Kinney said. “I care a lot about our community. I’ve been here for 30 years, and it means a lot of me to see Fort Wayne grow.”

Kinney said when construction is done in Spring of 2018 it will be a world class performing arts center.

“Our aim is to have one of the best performing arts centers in the country,” Kinney said. “It’s going to be different than any other venue in Fort Wayne or the region. We’re going to be able to do 2,200 standing room concerts.”

More than half of the $5 million project is privately funded. Major investors include Sweetwater Sounds’s Chuck and Lisa Surack. They couldn’t attend Thursday’s groundbreaking.

“Chuck grew up about 2 miles east of here on Webster Street and went to school about four miles south at Wayne High School,” Sweetwater Sound Executive VP John Hopkins said. “He has very fond memories of coming to the Clyde Theatre for movies.”

“I too experienced Quimby Village growing up,” Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry said. “I have special memories at the Clyde Theatre.”

The project is also publicly funded. It received a $1 million grant from the state’s Regional Cities Fund, and City Council unanimously agreed to give it a $1 million loan from the city’s legacy funds.

Kinney has something he’s looking forward to the most once renovations are complete.

“Something that’s not necessarily standard for this area is a state of the art audio and lighting system inside this building,” Kinney said. “It’s going to be one of the best.”

Kinney has a plan for the first show at the Clyde Theatre, but he’s not giving that away quite yet.