Chamber Chat - The Temple Theatre

Sep 10

By Meg Moss


The Temple Theater is one of the most popular year-round attractions in our area, bringing patrons from all across the state – in fact, Temple patrons during the 2016-2017 program year came from sixty-one counties in North Carolina.

The historic theater was built in 1925 as a Vaudeville house and served as a live performance venue and movie theater until 1965 when the Temple was closed. The theater was restored and reopened in 1984 as a 330 seat professional theater offering classic theater, special events, and youth programming.

The Temple Theatre provides many benefits to our community – to include a positive economic impact. As a downtown arts organization, The Temple supports the Sanford-Lee County economy, contributes to the quality of life and helps highlight Sanford as a destination for visitors, tourists and investment dollars. The Temple Theater makes our community a more desirable place to live and work. The arts provide inspiration and joy to residents, and is a part of keeping downtown beautiful. Nonprofit arts and cultural organizations like Temple Theater are also businesses. They employ people locally, purchase goods and services from local businesses, and attract tourists. Event-related spending by arts audiences generates valuable revenue for local merchants such as restaurants, retail stores, and hotels. For example, part of the arts experience may include dining out, shopping in local retail stores, and enjoying dessert or a drink after the show. Based on feedback from attendees, and downtown Sanford restaurant owners, Temple Theater is adjusting their show time schedule by “bumping” the evening shows back to 7:30 pm so that play-goers will have time to spend in downtown after the performances. Audience members could spend in the range of $30/person locally, beyond the cost of admission. Many attendees go out to eat before the show, and now they will have time for a drink or desert after the show.

Temple Theater Executive Director Peggy Taphorn shared that “nationally, total event-related spending was an estimated $102.5 billion during 2015. This spending supported 2.3 million jobs, provided $46.6 billion in household income, and generated $15.7 billion in total government revenue. When a community attracts nonlocal arts attendees and cultural tourists, it harnesses significant economic rewards.”

A study by Americans for the Arts, Arts & Economic Prosperity 5, puts to rest a misconception that communities support arts and culture at the expense of local economic development. In fact, communities are investing in an industry that supports jobs, generates revenue, and is the cornerstone of tourism. Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 shows conclusively that, locally as well as nationally, the arts mean business.

Last season the Temple Theatre had 34,000 patrons and reached a budget of $1,000,000. Of those patrons served, thousands were youth from Lee and surrounding counties, with many of their programs offered for a nominal fee. Last year, approximately sixty-one percent of Temple’s funding came from ticket sales and program fees, 24.2% from contributions and donations, 8.3% from grants/public funding, 2.4% was misc., 1.8% from fundraising and 1.6% from sales of materials/rentals. Temple Theatre pays sales tax on ticket sales and they anticipate paying no less than $15,000 in sales tax to Lee County this year.

One of the many special events this year will be “Puttin’ on the Glitz”, a black tie fundraiser held at the Theater in conjunction with the Miss North Carolina Scholarship Foundation. Proceeds will be split between the Scholarship Foundation, and Temple’s Youth Education Programs. Tickets for this fundraiser are available at

The 2017-2018 season begins with Footloose this Thursday, September 14th with a 2:00 pm matinee, and opening night is Friday, September 15th at 7:30 pm. Footloose runs through October 1st. Other shows this season include Clue the Musical, A Christmas Carol, Classic Nashville Roadshow, The Odd Couple, Church Basement Ladies, and Beauty and the Beast. Season tickets are available until October 1st, and can be purchased either online, or at the box office.

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