A Community Hub for Performing Arts
Baker Orpheum Theatre, Baker City
For years, Eastern Oregon Regional Theatre (EORT) and local musical groups have had to perform in school cafeterias and inadequate rented spaces in Baker City, a town of 9,800. But those days will soon draw to a close.
For much of his life, Baker City resident David Burris longed to restore the downtown Baker Orpheum Theatre to its former glory. “I went there as a little boy a lot. I spent a lot of time at the theater, and it was always my dream to bring it back,” David says. Built in 1889, the Orpheum operated as a theater until competition from TV and drive-in movies brought closure in 1956.
Sixty years later, the historic building came up for sale, and David gave EORT the money to buy it. Early funding by Leo Adler Community Fund, OCF and The Ford Family Foundation provided a feasibility study, interior demolition and asbestos abatement; with other grants and local funds, the theater is ready for structural upgrades.
“We’ve had a lot of people involved. The final product is going to be one of the finest theaters east of the Cascades. It’s going to be a place for events throughout the year, which we don’t have now. It’s going to have a big impact.”
David set up a donor advised fund through OCF as the heart of his gift. “David wanted to ensure that once it’s built, we can attract touring artists with national reputation,” says Aletha Bonebrake, EORT board member and OCF Eastern Oregon Leadership Council member. “His donor advised fund will underwrite the cost of the artists to make tickets affordable for our community.”