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'The Capitol' arts center in Burlington looking for $1.5M to expand

The Capitol is seeking at least $1.5 million to begin extensive renovations of its Annex building.

BURLINGTON, Iowa — The Capitol, a performing arts center in Burlington is hoping to expand as part of its campaign "The Dream Behind the Curtain" campaign.

Formerly known as the Capitol Theater, the center already has $810,000 in donations and funding to begin improvements on the 'annex' side of its building, adding a listening room, cocktail lounge and speakeasy.

However, leaders are seeking at least $1.5 million to begin further expansion of the annex's second floor.

Organizers are hoping to add a black box theater seating 120 people, multi-purpose practice areas and a new music recording space.

They hope this will allow for more diverse performances in theater, art, comedy, music and more.

"I just recently retired as executive director for the Art Center of Burlington and really developed that place - it has become a very busy iconic place for Burlington, and I'm hoping to do the same thing for The Capitol," executive director Tammy McCoy said. "I feel that offering the communities things to do that inspire and connect is really important."

McCoy said she wants the development to not just bring new entertainment to the local area, but also support arts education in the community.

The Capitol is planning on leasing some of the new space to Southeast Community College, giving their students a professional area to learn, practice and perform in.

The center also wants to offer classes for the general public, including courses for kids as young as preschool.

"I read that 90% of five-year-olds test highly creative... by the time they're seven years old, only 10% test highly creative, and by the time they're eight it's only 2% of the population," McCoy said. "I find that to be very sad. Creativity is part of being human. And I feel that the performing arts help keep in touch with your creative side. So I love the idea that we're going to be able to offer that to people."

The Capitol is hoping to reach their funding goal by early 2023 at latest, working with various arts councils and grant programs and asking for community donations.

Their plan is to open the cocktail lounge by Fall 2023 and complete second floor renovations by Spring 2024.

More information and a donation link is available on The Capitol's website.

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