If Davenport Junior Theatre raises $7,000 by March 1, it will enjoy a windfall of $35,000 thanks to the Riverboat Development Authority and the Davenport Parks and Recreation Department.

“It says a lot that both organizations in the program like where it’s headed,” said Daniel DP Sheridan, the performing arts supervisor and artistic director of the theater.

Junior Theatre takes place at the 375-seat Mary Fluhrer-Nighswander Theatre that is located in the Annie Wittenmyer Complex along Eastern Avenue.

The Riverboat Development Authority, or RDA, will contribute $20,000, and the parks and recreation department will add another $15,000 so the theater can purchase the $42,000 lighting system it is seeking.

Sheridan said the theater could have gone to the RDA for the entire amount, but pursued the challenge grant instead.

“We want to figure out how to become more viable as an organization to continue our history,” he said. “We’re excited for the opportunity to prove that we have our feet under us in the fundraising field as well.”

Some of the equipment in the existing lighting system is as much as 30 years old, he said. New lights were installed seven or eight years ago, but the equipment was designed for nightclub DJs.

“It’s literally DJ-quality. It’s not the quality you would use in a theater in our setting,” he added.

Lighting technology took a big leap in the mid-1990s, Sheridan said, to more of a computer-based electronics system.

The proposed system would have LED technology. Besides saving energy, it allows colors to be changed from the light board rather than having a tech climb a ladder to replace the gels that are used.

“It’ll allow us to use new technologies to train our students, and the impact will be felt by the kids and their ability to learn on equipment that is current and not outdated,” Sheridan said. “It’ll allow us versatility. It’ll create a greater theatrical environment for plays to exist in. It’ll also provide greater versatility to anyone who uses the theater for any reason.”

A growing number of organizations, including churches, dance groups and the monthly Bucktown Revue variety show are using the facilities, he said.

Junior Theatre already offers a stagecraft class, and Sheridan said a class specifically for lighting design is likely to be added after the equipment is installed.

Junior Theatre is finishing its fall semester with performances this week. New 12-week sessions begin Jan. 7, including preparations for the mainstage shows “Treasure Island” in February and “Jungle Book” in April and May.

Since its creation in 1951, Davenport Junior Theatre has reached hundreds of thousands of Quad-City residents through public performances and theater and dance education. It now sees more than 1,400 enrollments annually.

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