After four months of renovations, The Coyote Twin Theater hosted a gala celebrating the reopening of the newly-named Red Steakhouse Auditorium Monday night.
The auditorium was named in honor of donations given to the theater by Jerad Higman, the owner of Red Steakhouse.
More than 70 people attended the gala, which was catered by Red Steakhouse. Attendants mingled with board members of the Vermillion Downtown Cultural Association (VDCA), which owns and operates the theater.
Jason Thiel, executive director of VDCA, manages the Coyote Twin Theater. He said he hopes this is another step to making Vermillion culturally relevant in the region.
“The VDCA is tasked with essentially building a community of culture in Vermillion,” he said. “Whether that’s art, music, movie – we want to have our hands in it and make this a destination for the entire region to come and experience what they would otherwise have to go to Sioux City or Sioux Falls for.”
The auditorium features new seating, improved hardware for showing films and a stage that can be used for small plays and concerts. Most of the auditorium’s 120 seats are stadium-style and all feature cup holders and reclining capabilities.
Thiel would like to see the theater host more than movie showings, he said.
“We’re looking at bringing in acts like magicians, ventriloquists, anything people can think of,” he said.
Attendants were ushered into the auditorium to experience the renovated theater for the first time. Bill Anderson, a board member of the VDCA, spoke about the important role the VDCA hopes to play in the development of downtown Vermillion.
“(The VDCA) wants to democratize the cinema experience,” he said. “The humanities are such an important part and fabric of our culture, we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can in a town like ours and a place like this to preserve those things.”
Mayor Jack Powell spoke about how close-knit he feels Vermillion is.
“To me this is just another example of the people we have living in the Vermillion area and what they’ll do when they get together to do a project,” he said.
Thiel said he hopes the theater will become a cornerstone of downtown and help revitalize the region.
“We want to make it a welcoming place,” he said. “So when you think about an event going on or what’s happening, this should be your first thought.”
While the opening of Red Steakhouse Auditorium is a major step in revitalizing downtown Vermillion, Anderson said there are future plans on other improvements of the Coyote Twin and Vermillion Theaters.
“We’re going to be renovating screen two, reimagine the lobby, build a new facade and work on re-opening the Vermillion Theater,” he said. “We’re looking at starting work on screen two next year.”
Thiel wants Vermillion residents to be active in the community and promises support for ideas to help improve downtown.
“This community is what we make it,” he said. “And so any time anyone is ready to contribute or come up with an idea, we’re going to support and make it a reality.”