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O.P.E.R.A. Inc. launches All-In, All-School Fund Drive

The focus of the drive is to continue work on the Ellendale Opera House.

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O.P.E.R.A. Inc. has launched an All-In, All-School Fund Drive to benefit the Ellendale Opera House, hoping to enlist first-time donors to contribute, which will be matched up to a total of $10,000.

For each dollar donated to the All-In, All-School Fund Drive by first-time contributors, anonymous O.P.E.R.A. supporters will match that amount with $2, up to a total of $10,000. If that amount is reached, O.P.E.R.A. will receive a total of $30,000 toward this year's fund drive.

Also new this year is an "Acres for O.P.E.R.A." program, which is being offered to encourage Dickey County farm owners to donate a portion of their crop to the nonprofit organization. Donating grain directly to O.P.E.R.A. can provide tax benefits to farm owners. (Farm owners should consult a tax professional to determine if the program would benefit them.)

All contributions by past donors will be matched dollar-for-dollar by O.P.E.R.A. supporters up to a maximum of $20,000.

Those who donate $250 or more to the All-In, All-School Fund Drive between now and Aug. 31 will receive a custom-designed O.P.E.R.A. coffee mug (while supplies last).

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The name of this year's fund drive refers to the Ellendale High School All-School Reunion being held July 7-10.

The reunion of all high school classes is held every five years and involves special events and activities, including a "Walk of Fame" dinner with induction of past and present residents who have made notable contributions to the community.

During the all-school reunion week, the Ellendale Opera House Lobby & Gallery will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., providing a place for conversation and free refreshments. Donation forms, information about the opera house restoration and tours will be provided to visitors.

A special photography exhibit with images from the 2020 governor's photo contest will be on display in the gallery during the reunion. The photography exhibit will be up from June 20 until July 20.

O.P.E.R.A. began its current "Building Our Future and Preserving Our Past" capital campaign in late 2018 to raise funds to bring the 1909 opera house back to full use by the community.

Last year, the group raised $78,000 during its "Next Step" fund drive.

In 2020, the group raised nearly $40,000 in a matching fund drive to help pay for rebuilding part of the building's north wall. The $200,000 wall re-construction was completed with a combination of O.P.E.R.A. funds and a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development loan and grant.

In 2019, O.P.E.R.A. raised nearly $80,000 as part of the 80th birthday celebration for long-time opera house advocate Jeanette Robb. The group raised another $13,000 in donations from the book "Visions from My Childhood" with images created by Ellendale native Kevin Kendall.

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Now that the back wall improvement is complete, the organization has turned its focus to upgrades that will help increase use of the building by business and community groups.

That work would include:

  • upgrading electric service to the first floor of the building
  • adding a fire detection/alarm system
  • renovating the storefront space next door to the Opera House Lobby & Gallery
  • completing upgrades to the rear building entrance to meet ADA requirements
  • completing interior work on the remaining unimproved street-level storefronts.

Electricity to the opera house was added more than 20 years ago, but further restoration and occupancy of the building's street-level spaces will require a significant upgrade to the current electrical service. Installation of fire detection/alarm equipment also is a priority.
To contribute to the All-In, All-School Fund Drive, mail your donation to O.P.E.R.A., Inc. at P.O. Box 334, Ellendale, ND 58436, or donate online at: www.ellendaleoperahouse.com .

O.P.E.R.A. – Organization of People in Ellendale for Restoration of the Arts – was formed in 1992 to save the Main Street landmark from the wrecking ball. Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

For additional information, call 701-535-0347 or email jmmeid@hotmail.com.

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