By Cate Bruns
For the Perdue family, the need for new seats in the Arts Council of the Valley’s Court Square Theater has been a long time coming.
“I’ve been nagging for the last 10 years,” chuckles Zack Perdue, one of the first donors to Court Square Theater’s Save a Seat campaign. A long-time supporter of the Theater, Perdue and his wife, Judy, had once joked about replacing a row themselves – until they learned the price tag. At $250 per chair for a 250-seat theater, neither Perdue had anticipated the price of a revamp could run so high. “We were thinking, ‘How much could it really cost?’” Zack remarks. “But it turns out, it costs a lot.”
According to Zack and Judy, however, the cost is worth it. After seeing performances at other local venues, the Perdues felt that the quality of acts at Court Square Theater simply couldn’t be matched. Attending the Theater soon became a family tradition.
"We were thinking, 'How much could it cost?' But it turns out, it costs a lot."
Unfortunately, sitting through events has become difficult. Since their installation over 18 years ago, the Theater’s seats – which were pre-owned to begin with – have become worn and uncomfortable, especially the chairs in the front, which Zack describes as “sprung.” The seats are particularly problematic during high-energy concerts, when their instability causes entire rows to bounce and rock – and not in a good way.
Although Zack is able to tune out pain when listening to music, “he complains between songs and on the way home,” his wife teases. Judy herself doesn’t attend long shows at the Theater due to dizziness. With many Court Square Theater patrons being older, she worries that similar aches are deterring some from showing the local institution more support.
But it’s not just an age problem. The Perdues recall one Hank Williams tribute concert when the hurt became too much for their son, who is taller. “Halfway through, he just said, ‘I’m enjoying the music, but my back hurts, I won’t stay,’” remembers Zack. Since then, Zack has become disinterested in attending events at the Theater, dissuaded at the thought of going alone.
"With music, you listen with your whole body."
Patron concerns such as the Perdues’ are why the Arts Council of the Valley initiated its Save a Seat at Court Square Theater campaign over half a year ago. Despite wariness surrounding the cost of such a large endeavor, the Arts Council maintains that community relationships with the venue deem the update essential. Since its launch, the campaign has successfully surpassed the 80% mark – over $54,000 – and the nonprofit is hopeful to reach the end by July 1, a goal that could see new seats installed by the end of 2017.
The Perdues expect Theater attendance to increase following the campaign’s completion. But until the chairs are replaced, Zack explains, patrons at Court Square Theater continue to miss out on a phenomenal experience. “With music, you listen with your whole body,” he furthers. “If your body feels bad for whatever reason, you won’t enjoy the music.” And with such high-quality acts, that truly would be a small town tragedy.
Written by Cate Bruns, Communications and Administrative Assistant at the Arts Council of the Valley