Lisa Scheps founded and built the Ground Floor Theatre in 2014, since it’s opening they have hosted award winning shows and help to keep the theatre our scene as vibrant and diverse as Austin is. However earlier this year the Ground Floor Theatre was forced to close very quickly. Lisa spoke with editor Olin Meadows this week about the situation and how the Austin Theatre scene can help get the Ground Floor Theatre’s doors back open!
AEW: So, what happened? There are a lot of rumor care to set us all straight?
Lisa: In January, the fire department came out to investigate the Austin Bouldering Project from a neighbor complaint. They found nothing wrong there and decided to look at the rest of the building. When they came to Ground Floor Theatre, they found no Certificate of Occupancy on file with the City. This was something the Landlord was supposed to supply. We closed at that point and have been working with our landlord and the City to get a Certificate of Occupancy as well as bring Ground Floor Theatre up to 2016 code.
AEW: What is the process like now, what are the steps you are having to take to get Ground Floor Theatre back up and running?
Lisa: The Landlord is doing the necessary things to get the Certificate of Occupancy and we are raising the considerable funds that it will take to bring things up to 2016 code. For instance, there can be no wood in the theatre and we will have to replace our audience risers with aluminum.
AEW: What can we as the theatre community do to help?
Lisa: The continued support of the theatre community has been very heartening. We need to community to keep doing what it is doing and, in a very short while, we will be having a capital campaign to raise funds. We will need to get the word out to a varied group of people as the Theatre community was very generous with us in our Kickstarter two years ago and we are hoping to reach a number of new people. We did not want to come back with a major campaign so soon, but circumstances have made it necessary.
AEW: Do you have a plan for the future besides getting re-opened?
Lisa: We are planning a grand re-opening in January of 2017, but fully expect to be operational several months before then.
AEW: Who can we contact to help push things through?
Lisa: Make sure your council member and arts commission rep know that you value arts in Austin and make the understand that finding a solution to Venue creation is key to the survival of the Austin theatre scene.
AEW: What is your website or gofundme.com campaign?
Lisa: Our website is GroundFloorTheatre.org and we will announce when we have our campaign up and running. In the meantime, folks can donate via our website and click the button on the upper left.