Donations still coming in as Gateway nears deadline for $100,000 grant

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Donations still coming in as Gateway nears deadline for $100,000 grant Donations still coming in as Gateway nears deadline for $100,000 grant
SOMERS POINT – The Gateway Playhouse is continuing its quest to reach a $100,000 matching grant challenge issued by Shore Medical Center.

To date, the organization is more than halfway toward that goal, having raised between $50,000 and $60,000 in the past year, according to James Dalfonso, chairman of the Theater Collaborative of South Jersey.

The collaborative has raised more than $310,000 since signing a 20-year lease with the city of Somers Point in 2009. It has held fundraisers, its popular “Broadway by Request” shows and has sold engraved tiles to donors for $125 that will adorn the donor wall in the lobby.

All of it adds up, Dalfonso said. The wall is one-third of the way full adding $25,000 to the project’s coffers.

“We’ve gotten random $10 PayPal donations. We got one yesterday out of the blue for $1,000,” Dalfonso said Tuesday, Sept. 25.

Dalfonso said in addition to the 10-member board of directors, there are countless volunteers pitching in to see the revitlization of the 101-year theater on Bay Avenue in Somers Point.

“When the building is open everyone will be appreciative of it. The donors and supporters will have a sense of ownership,” said Dalfonso. “It’s definitely grassroots.”

The hosptial set a one-year window for the matching grant of up to $100,000 a year ago and planned on ending the campaign at the end of this month.

Dalfonso said reaching the goal is not out of the realm of possibility, but the deadline may be extended by Shore.

Donations still coming in as Gateway nears deadline for $100,000 grant

“Everyone I have dealt with there has been so supportive. I would imagine we can work something out to extend it; they seem to me to be committed. If we don’t reach the goal, we will work something out to continue moving forward,” Dalfonso said.

The efforts to date have made the building structurally sound for the first time in 50 years, according to Dalfonso.

Work has been done on the foundation, joists, subfloor, second floor framework, and roof.

“All the hard stuff is over; the foundation and roof,” Dalfonso said. “We’re about halfway done; now we’re just putting it back together.”

Asked when the curtain would rise on the opening night, Dalfonso said that will be determined by fundraising. They need about $350,000.

“If we had ready funds and they were sitting in the bank we would probably be open in nine months,” Dalfonso said.

He said soon work would begin on the outside of the theater, which may increase the already positive response received for the project.

“I get stopped on the street and in the grocery store by people who want to talk. They’re excited to see what is going on and they’re excited someone has grabbed the ball on this. I’m pretty proud of what our board and our volunteers have done,” said Dalfonso.

From businesses to actors and theater lovers, Dalfonso sees an encore for the Gateway Playhouse as a benefit for everyone.

“Ultimately it will be a big boon for the town,” he said.

For information about the Gateway Playhouse, see  or call (609) 653-0553. 

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