The Plaza Theatre is reporting that more than 4,000 individuals came to Wharton’s downtown area, and 60 percent of those from outside of the city.
These findings were part of a communication between Russell Kacer, who is the vice president of communications for the Plaza Theatre to Joan Andel, finance director for the City of Wharton.
He relayed this message in a May 14 letter, months before Wharton city elected leaders would be pouring over funding requests from various agencies and entities in preparing the 2019-20 Fiscal Year budget.
Three months later, that time has arrived for the council to consider the Plaza’s $10,000 request.
The Wharton City Council plans to have a series of budget meetings and public hearings in August and possible September before the budget becomes operational Oct. 1.
In his letter, Kacer alluded to the poor economy as one reason why the Plaza in 2009, it eliminated altogether the process of formally requesting to the city consider designating a portion of the Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) fund to it.
“If this funding were to be reinstated, it would be used for the ongoing improvements to and maintenance of our historical theatre,” Kacer said. “As with any historical building, the Plaza is in need of new HVAC units, upgraded electrical wiring, upgraded plumbing, weatherproofing, and so much more.”
He adds that these ongoing needs matched with the growth of the Plaza Theatre programs has required officials to expand the lobby area along with seeking out additional space for both office facilities and storage.
The demographics that show that 60 percent of more than 4,000 people who visited Wharton were from out of town to view seven Plaza shows is astounding just as much as its five-figure monetary request for funding.
Kacer said the numbers speak for themselves.
“We feel that these numbers clearly demonstrate the support of both tourism and a hotel industry within Warden and by designating a portion of the (HOT funds) to the Plaza Theater, the City of Wharton will not only be supporting those same effort but promoting arts and culture within this area,” Kacer said.
According to the Plaza Theatre Patron Demographic Report dated May 2018 to May 2019, it shows that most of its patrons hailed from Wharton. This included the Lamplighter Gala three months ago at the Wharton Civic Center.
In El Campo residents ranked second among patrons seeing seven Plaza shows. There were Boling and East Bernard residents who attended five of the seven shows.
Residents from outside of Wharton County who came to see a Plaza Theatre show were from Houston, Bay City, Richmond, Angleton, Brazoria, Rosenberg, Stafford, Needville, Sweeny, Katy, Canyon Lake, Beasley, Markham, Irving, and Collegeport.