BY REBEKAH REED
It has been 100 years since Wichita’s Orpheum Theatre opened. In honor of its 100th year, the Orpheum Theater is partnering with CityBluePrint and hosting a mural design contest.
Submissions are open and the deadline to submit is August 5th. One artist’s work will be printed on polymetal and displayed on a former billboard space on the south side of the Orpheum Theater. Along with great exposure for the artist, the artist will receive $1,000 and an opportunity to display more work at the First Friday event on September 2.
The Orpheum Theater is in the heart of downtown Wichita. When the theater opened its doors in 1922, it was home to theatrical performances, comedies, and movies. John Eberson, who designed over 500 theaters, was inspired by old Andalusia gardens. The Spanish influence was apparent.
It was ornately decorated with hand-painted details and filled with greenery. The goal was to transport its audience to an imaginary place. Even through The Depression, it was home to performances. As the entertainment industry evolved through the 50s, it sat empty for two decades. It finally closed in 1976 and was set for demolition.
The Orpheum has a vibrant history and is an architectural gem people could not stand to see the theater go. In 1984 the theater was gifted to the non-profit organization: The Orpheum Performing Arts Center. The organization is committed to renovating and putting new life into the rundown theater. It re-opened in 1999.
Over the last 23 years, millions of dollars from private donations have contributed to the renovations and upkeep. Today the Orpheum theater continues to host music artists, comedians, and movie screenings. Its legacy continues as a home away from home.
The Mural Art contest is to celebrate the Orpheum, its history, and its community. Mural Contest Information can be found on their website.