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Lompoc Theatre Project board members presented an update to the community Thursday night that involved a draft of an operational budget for 2016 and an announcement of an impending agreement with the city.

About 25 people attended the presentation put on by the Lompoc Valley Arts Council at Stone Pine Hall, where the Lompoc Theatre Project discussed the current status of the nonprofit organization’s push to gain ownership of the building in the 100 block of North H Street.

Board member Steve Stormoen said the theatre is still currently owned by the Lompoc Housing and Community Development Corporation (LHCDC). The group and the city are negotiating the details of a memorandum of understanding to eventually take to the Lompoc City Council for approval.

"This is a process that will let us get control and gain ownership of the theater,” Stormoen said. “We’re really excited about this. There’s new news happening every single day.”

Transferring the title to the Theatre Project has been ensnarled in a lengthy process to have the largest lien — $700,000 — removed.

“Despite the legal quagmire and legal obstacles, the way is clear for us to get in here and do something really good for the community,” Stormoen said.

Mark Herrier, also a board member, said the group has already drafted an operational budget of the acts the theatre hopes to attract in 2016, the first year the group plans for it to reopen. Most of the theatre’s programming will be dedicated to local acts, such as dance studios and music groups, Herrier said.

“Other arts groups are hurting like the rest of us,” he said. “Not only are they going to perform on this stage, they are going to do it for free. We are not going to charge them a penny.”

The renovated theatre will also feature classic film series, Sunday matinees and dance nights, Herrier said. The Lompoc Theatre Project even hopes to host a film festival in the future, he said.

But such events cannot happen without the support of the community, Herrier said.

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“Not only do we need you as donors and volunteers, but most importantly, we need you as an audience,” he said. “This does not work if you aren’t going to that theatre a couple of times a month. We can have this ambitious of a program if you come on down.”

At the end of the meeting, Lompoc Theatre Project President Cecilia Martner said the group is seeking donations to renovate the building, a process that will likely take up to 18 months to complete.

“The Lompoc Theatre can only happen if the community wants it,” Martner said. “It’s that simple. If the community doesn’t want it, it’s not going to happen.”

The Lompoc Theatre Project can gain more community support and backing if volunteers are willing to join, she said. She also encouraged audience members to lobby City Council members on behalf of the project.

“We are at a point where we have so much to do, we don’t have enough time, energy or people to make it happen,” Martner said. “We are moving forward and working with the city, but we need more bodies.”

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