The Brauntex Performing Arts Theater is bringing a new experience to its guests thanks to a $1.2 million grant from the New Braunfels Economic Development Corporation.
The donation is going toward the Brauntex’s multiple phase campaign to upgrade the 80 year-old theater’s infrastructure, which includes improving equipment, building renovations and expansions.
Approved earlier this year by the City Council, the grant helped the theater make upgrades to their sound and lighting systems, which will allow the Brauntex to create a more modern experience for visitors.
With several community members in attendance for Tuesday’s check presentation, the Brauntex’s executive director, Cheryl Fisher, took the opportunity to peel back the curtain on the work process and give attendees an inside look at phase four in action.
The presentation included a sped up video of the work done to the Brauntex over several months and was accompanied by a demonstration of the newly installed equipment to show off the extent of its theatrical might.
The final part of the fourth phase in the Brauntex’s plan to preserve the arts in New Braunfels is the purchase and installation of a 20 foot LED video wall.
The wall will provide an illusion of a bigger stage, allowing the Brauntex to hold more stage productions and cut down on costs associated with set design and let the projector set the scene.
“(The LED video wall) also allows us to do videos and movies that (have) kind of intense scenery,” capital campaign coordinator Delia Milam said. “If you were to watch a Star Wars movie on an LED video wall, it’s a lot more interactive than watching it just like on a regular TV.”
Along with the upgrades to the lighting and sound systems, phase four of the theater’s campaign also includes upgrades to its stage production equipment and replacing its PA system, which was donated over two decades ago.
“(The outdated equipment) was really hindering us from getting larger acts and being able to diversify programming like theater and film,” Milam said.
This phase’s improvements are centered around upgrading their technology to attract more business, more shows and more performances for the theater that has been a part of the New Braunfels community since 1942 before closing its doors in 1998 and then reopening in 2000.
Past improvements to the Brauntex as part of the theater’s campaign, which began in 2000, included a renovation of the lobby, added dressing rooms and repairs to the roof and walls of the building.
Next for the Brauntex is a new movie screen, which was purchased with the help of the Rotary Club of New Braunfels and the Downtown Rotary Club of New Braunfels, that will enhance the movie going experience.
Once phase four is complete, the Brauntex will move to phase five, which includes a second story rooftop bar and lounge, and will provide those with disabilities access to the second floor.
In its final phase, the Brauntex, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, will undergo an external upgrade in the form of a brand new marquee along with a few more indoor lighting installations.
During the pandemic, which closed most entertainment venues around the world, nonprofit arts and culture organizations lost billions of dollars and thousands lost their jobs.
With the pandemic slowing and venues back up and running, people are seeking entertainment to make up for lost time.
The Brauntex’s recent grants and fundraising are helping to invest in the future of the theater and the arts scene, and helping restore what was lost.