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Denair theater to close if volunteers don’t come forward
Denair theater
Since it was formed in 2002, the Denair Gaslight Community Conservatory has given local youth and adults the opportunity to participate in performing arts, like the 2018 production of “A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas” pictured above (Photo contributed).

A Denair organization which has fostered an appreciation of the performing arts for community members throughout the decades is in danger of shutting down due to a lack of board members and volunteers. 

There are currently four Denair Gaslight Community Conservatory board members who volunteer their time and oversee all happenings at the Gaslight Theater on North Gratton Road — a selfless job which helps bring theater, music and dancing opportunities to the town’s youth. 

According to board president Katie Mullany, the GCC board was extremely active prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, once the virus hit and was here to stay, board members moved to different cities or were no longer able to be active and the organization was back at square one. 

“We have to basically rebuild the entire program at this point,” Mullany said. “We’re looking for people that are willing to get in there and help replenish the board a little bit, as well as volunteer at the facility once we can get it up and running again.”

Volunteers are needed not only to oversee things from a board perspective, but the theater is also hoping to receive help from those who can run the stage and lights for different shows at the theater and teach children about the various performing arts. 

The Denair Gaslight Theater is the former site of the Denair school, built in 1917. The Denair Community Services Committee purchased the building in 1968 and in 2002, the Gaslight Community Conservatory was formed.

The organization has never been in danger of shutting down before, Mullany said, emphasizing the dire situation in Denair. Rebuilding a program from the ground up via a volunteer-based model may be a tall order, but she believes the community can come together to make it happen — like they always do. 

“We know a lot of kids that have gone through the programs and look back fondly on it, and even parents have been involved,” Mullany said. “It’s a community-based thing for everybody and it’s a gathering place and somewhere you can be creative. It just becomes a little family down there, and we've seen different families come in and out over the years.”

GCC board members are responsible for attending monthly board meetings and pitching in with all aspects of the organization, from helping to run the website to the actual operations of the facility. Mullany encouraged those who want to give back and are good at working in a team to inquire about a position on the board. 

“We need good team players and people with strong leadership skills. We’re excited to get in and really get on the ground floor of it because we’re not just looking for people to be yes men where they come and vote and that’s it. We have to get in and get our hands dirty and walk the walk ourselves,” Mullany said. “That’s the type of personality we’re looking for — someone who’s creative and excited to volunteer with the community.”

Mullany said GCC is looking for a handful of new board members and additional volunteers to help the performing arts programs and shows at the Gaslight Theater get back up and running. If they don’t find enough volunteers by Jan. 1, 2022, the program will shut down. Those who are interested can contact Mullany at 209-424-1601.