Future Now Fund Drive seeks to match state financial support

State-wide donor support sought for restoration of Ellendale Opera House

For immediate release: Thursday, July 20, 2023

Restoration of the historic Ellendale Opera House got a big boost from the State of North Dakota this year, and the non-profit group heading up the renovation hopes the state backing will translate into contributions from donors statewide.

O.P.E.R.A., Inc. – the charitable non-profit seeking to bring the 110-year-old building back to full use – was allocated $250,000 in the N.D. Historical Society budget to assist with renovations of the opera house.

“We’re hoping to build on the state’s endorsement and funding of the opera house restoration with this year’s Future Now Fund Drive, O.P.E.R.A.’s Executive Director Justin Meidinger, said.

“We believe the time is right to make significant progress on the opera house restoration, and we will be reaching out to foundations and individuals beyond our community for financial support of the project,” Meidinger said.

O.P.E.R.A. has raised nearly $200,000 over the last three years to support renovation work and more than $500,000 since 1992 to restore the building.

Work on the building – listed on the National Register of Historic Places – has been ongoing for more than 25 years.

“With the state funding, we hope to make critical repairs to return the upstairs auditorium to public use on a limited basis, and renovate the two currently vacant street-level storefronts,” he said.

Major contributions to the opera house restoration will be sought from foundations in the state during the Future Now Fund Drive, as well as special solicitations to individuals with a history of providing support for historic restoration projects in the state.

“The ultimate goal of the fund drive is to obtain private financial contributions to match the state’s investment,” Meidinger said. “The goal may be a high bar for just supporters in the community, but if we reach out to donors from across the state we believe it is achievable.”

Also part of this year’s fund drive effort:
• All contributions will be matched dollar-for-dollar by O.P.E.R.A. supporters up to a maximum of $25,000.

• “Acres for O.P.E.R.A." is being offered to encourage farm owners to donate a portion of their crop to the non-profit 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.)

• And, those who donate $250 or more between now and December 31 will receive a custom- designed O.P.E.R.A. coffee mug.

To contribute to the Future Now Fund Drive, mail your donation to O.P.E.R.A., Inc. at P.O. Box 334, Ellendale, ND 58436, or donate online by clicking on the "Donate" button at top of page.

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.

Because O.P.E.R.A. is a charitable non-profit organization, all donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

All donors will have their names listed on a display in the Opera House Lobby & Gallery. Donations can be made to honor other individuals or family members and have those names listed on the donor display.

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