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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Ignite Community Theatre searching for its next stage home

“We’ve been diligently searching for a venue and patrons, and time is running out,” said artistic director Scott Finlayson who has been looking for a new building to house Ignite Community Theatre. This former used car showroom on East Sprague is a possibility, but a lot of factors have to come into play, Finlayson said.  (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

The days of Ignite Community Theatre may be numbered if the nonprofit organization cannot find a new home quickly.

The group has put out a plea for help in finding a new location to rent after losing its previous space at Spokane Valley Partners in fall 2020. Losing their lease of seven years was a byproduct of the COVID-19 pandemic and the increased need Spokane Valley Partners was struggling to meet, said artistic director Scott Finlayson.

“They needed more storage space,” he said. “We were shut down for COVID and they decided not to renew our lease.”

The organization put everything in storage, including the 90 theater seats that used to fill the small theater space at Spokane Valley Partners. Time is ticking there as well, since the organization has been notified that they’ll be losing its storage space in June.

Ignite was founded by people who were performing with the Spokane Civic Theatre nearly 20 years ago because more performance options were needed, Finlayson said. “There were not enough options in town to keep us all busy year-round,” he said.

The group performed in a variety of locations over the years until landing at Spokane Valley Partners. “We had to shut down in the midst of our 16th season,” he said.

Board of directors president Dan Griffith said the group loved the space at Spokane Valley Partners and hope to find something similar. It was small enough to make for intimate performances, but still provided a good amount of seating. “It was a theater space,” he said. “It had tiered seating, it had a stage. I don’t think we totally grasped how great that space was.”

The group has struggled to keep going after it was able to resume performances in temporary, borrowed spaces.

“We’ve done two reading stage productions,” Finlayson said. “We’ve been as active as we can. It’s just difficult when you’re rehearsing in people’s homes.”

The loss of the storage space is forcing the issue, Griffith said. It doesn’t make sense to move all the equipment and 90 theater seats again. The decision that has to be made if no new location is found is whether the group should fold or whether it should give its equipment away to other theater organizations and continue to try to make do without a permanent home. “It’s kind of a break point,” he said.

Ignite is a true community theater group and doesn’t have any paid staff, Finlayson said. “We are the only all-volunteer entity in town,” he said.

While it was at Spokane Valley Partners, Ignite was a viable organization and had established an audience, Griffith said. “We were regularly selling well, selling out sometimes, and in the black,” he said.

“We kept our expenses low and our ticket prices low,” Finlayson said.

Griffith said the theater group needs to rent about 6,000 square feet. The ceilings would need to be from 16 to 18 feet high in some areas to accommodate the stage and tiered seating, which the group could build.

The theater group is looking for a space for under $2,000 a month, which has been difficult, if not impossible, to find. Ignite would like to be co-located with other organizations, such as the nonprofit groups that worked in the Spokane Valley Partners building by day while Ignite put on performances on the evenings and weekends. “Partnering somehow like that would be great,” Griffith said.

More details and contact information is available online at “This is our time of greatest need,” the web page reads. “We are asking you to ignite us once again.”

This article has been updated to correct an earlier version of this story that misspelled the name of Ignite Community Theatre’s artistic director Scott Finlayson.