ALAMOSA — The City of Alamosa became a sponsor this week of the Society Hall’s annual fundraiser, billed as a “burn the mortgage” event.
Board members of the nonprofit Society Hall Foundation asked the city council during its Wednesday meeting to support the event as a sponsor this September. The city council unanimously decided to sponsor the event with $3,000, leaving $4,000 in its sponsorship budget for other events that might still make requests this year.
Last month the council approved a $3,000 sponsorship of a children’s carnival scheduled through the Alamosa County Department of Human Services and Children’s Advocacy Center for April 14. The city has a sponsorship budget item of $10,000 and has in the past sponsored Alamosa Round Up and Beat the Heat.
In addition to providing a $3,000 sponsorship, the council voted to waive rental fees for a stage and tent for the Society Hall event.
The Society Hall Foundation board asked for a sponsorship of $5,000 but had not asked for the rental fees to be waived. Also sponsoring the event is the Alamosa County Local Marketing District, which approved $2,500.
Foundation Board Treasurer/Secretary Pete Magee said the sponsorship funds would be used to help put the event on, which will allow Society Hall to raise more funds to pay off its mortgage.
He said Society Hall has made Alamosa a more vibrant and engaged community through this facility, which formerly served as the Christian Science Society’s meeting site and continues to host the faith group on Sundays and other occasions. The organization was selling the building for $125,000 but reduced the price to $60,000 because “they knew we didn’t want to tear it down,” Society Hall Foundation Chairman Ruthie Brown explained.
Magee said the foundation is in its third year of paying for the $60,000 building and still owes $58,000 on the principal since most of the payments so far have gone into interest.
The foundation has remodeled and updated the 1920 structure since acquiring it. Upgrades and improvements have included the addition of two Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant bathrooms, ADA compliant ramp, enlargement of the stage, new roof, rewiring, sewer lines replaced, sound system to complement the already-excellent acoustics and other improvements.
“We invested probably close to $100,000,” Magee said.
Brown added that community businesses and organizations had also supported the improvements. For example, Trinidad State Junior College constructed the ramps, saving the Society Hall probably $40,000.
Magee said when musician Don Richmond, who is now vice chairman of the Society Hall Foundation board, first saw the inside of this building, he said it was such a great facility that there would be no problem in finding people who wanted to perform in it, “and that’s exactly what happened. We are booked into October of this year already.”
Magee said the hall hosted 35 events last year including the Southern Colorado Film Festival and a variety of performers, many of whom are national acts. The year before the hall hosted a candidate forum, and it has hosted other community meetings and events. Last year it was also one of the stops for the Christmas lighting. In April it will host the SLV Cancer Relief Fund fundraiser.
“It’s been really, really well received,” Magee said.
Richmond added that he has performed in many venues for many years but enjoys performing in the Society Hall. “It such a pleasure to play there because it sounds so good.”
The “burn the mortgage” fund-raiser this fall will be the second annual event with various performers inside and outside the building, Magee explained. Last year’s event drew close to 1,000 people with 240-400 people on site at any one time, he added.
“That place is wonderful,” said Councilman Michael Carson. He said he was comfortable matching this request with the amount the city approved earlier this year, $3,000, but preferred $5,000.
Councilman Jan Vigil also wanted to sponsor the Society Hall with $5,000 but believed $3,000 would be more acceptable to the rest of the council and would leave funds for other events. He made the motion to sponsor Society Hall with $3,000 in addition to waiving tent and stage rental fees.
Councilman Charles Griego agreed with a $3,000 sponsorship so the city would still have funds in that budget item to meet future requests.
Councilor Kristina Daniel commended the group and thanked the board for all of its efforts. “You made it a great place for people to be,” she said.
Councilor Liz Thomas Hensley also commended the group for providing such a great place for the community, especially in such a short time. “It’s such a great addition to Alamosa.”
Alamosa Mayor Ty Coleman said he has attended several events at the Society Hall and appreciated what the group was providing for the community.
Caption: Society Hall in Alamosa/Courier photo by Ruth Heide