LCRA and City of Shiner award $25,000 grant to Gaslight Theatre
New, energy-efficient lighting system will improve theatre safety, reduce operating costs
May 26, 2022
SHINER, Texas – The Gaslight Theatre will replace outdated lighting in the historic Shiner Opera House with an energy-efficient system, thanks to a $25,000 grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority and the City of Shiner.
The Community Development Partnership Program grant, along with $28,738 in matching funds from the theatre, will reduce the facility’s energy costs and fire risk, and allow for more dynamic lighting during productions at the 132-seat opera house.
“It was built in 1895, and back in those days it was the social center of Shiner, really the whole area around south-central Texas,” said Josh Kaspar, chair of the Gaslight Theatre board of directors, whose family has been involved with the opera house for five generations.
“The lighting is going to enrich our theatre so much because it has colored lights and all kinds of effects,” Kaspar said.
Theatre operations closed in 1927, and the building served as a warehouse and apartments until the nonprofit Gaslight Theatre’s board revived the opera house in the 1970s. The current lighting system dates back to the theatre’s reopening, and over the years, only temporary stage light improvements have been made.
“I called it ‘mud daubering,’” Kaspar said. “We kept putting lights here and there to try and fill the lighting gaps and shadows and things like that until we had a ceiling just covered with electric plugs.”
Kaspar said the primary motivations for installing new lighting were efficiency and safety. The outdated system produced substantial heat, requiring the air conditioner to be run on high throughout each production. Its age also posed potential safety risks for performers and patrons.
Each year, over 3,900 people visit Shiner for Gaslight Theatre productions, with many visitors traveling from across the state and some from as far as Germany and Ireland.
“Every time we have a play, all the bed and breakfasts sell out,” Kaspar said. “All hotels sell out. The restaurants are full because people usually end up staying the whole weekend. So, it impacts a lot of people. That really brings in a lot of wealth to our little community.”
The theatre struggled throughout the pandemic with no revenue coming in, but the theatre’s board has remained committed to its preservation and improvements.
“This is the second grant that LCRA has given us,” Kaspar said. “They got us a new roof so the building didn’t get run down, and now they’re giving us this great lighting system that we’ve been dreaming of for 20 years.”
The community grant is one of 36 grants awarded recently through LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program, which helps volunteer fire departments, local governments, emergency responders and nonprofit organizations fund capital improvement projects in LCRA’s wholesale electric, water and transmission service areas. The program is part of LCRA’s effort to give back to the communities it serves. The City of Shiner is one of LCRA’s wholesale electric customers and is a partner in the grant program.
Applications for the next round of grants will be accepted in July. More information is available at lcra.org/cdpp .
The Lower Colorado River Authority serves customers and communities throughout Texas by managing the lower Colorado River; generating and transmitting electric power; providing a clean, reliable water supply; and offering outdoor adventures at more than 40 parks along the Colorado River from the Texas Hill Country to the Gulf Coast. LCRA and its employees are committed to fulfilling our mission to enhance the quality of life of the Texans we serve through water stewardship, energy and community service. LCRA was created by the Texas Legislature in 1934 and receives no state appropriations. For more information, visit lcra.org.
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