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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Exterior enhancements in the works for The Grand Oshkosh

Critic At Large

Includes makeover of marquee

Planned look for marquee at The Grand Oshkosh. (Submitted)

OSHKOSH, Wis. (WFRV) – The Grand Oshkosh announced changes for the exterior look of the historic theater.

According to a press release: Director Joseph Ferlo says changes will take place in the coming months.

The 137-year-old theater will receive a makeover of its marquee, restoration of a blade sign that has not appeared on the building since the 1920s and an upgrade of its exterior message center to a state-of-the-art electronic sign.

Planned message center. (The Grand Oshkosh)

“The entire project will be accomplished with no taxpayer dollars, and will be a gift enhancement to the facility from The Grand Oshkosh,” the release says.

“The project will be completely funded through the first of several ‘branding licenses’ and will be known as the Festival Foods Marquee. This project represents the first of several branding licenses which will be set in the months ahead.”

According to Ferlo, the project is “a game-changer” for The Grand which, like performing arts venues worldwide, are struggling through the pandemic.

The Grand Opera House in 2015. (Warren Gerds)

“From the outside, The Grand will be exactly the same, except for these tremendous enhancements,” Ferlo says, adding that the design of the signage is reminiscent of the 1920s Grand Opera House.

“The building will remain the Grand Opera House, but the addition of branding licenses to elements like the lobby, auditorium and Grand Lounge not only provides us with a new income stream at a time our traditional income streams are slowed or stopped, but also a mechanism to continue to maintain and improve this wonderful, living piece of history,” Ferlo says.

For each future branding license, 25 percent of the income will be placed into a special account at the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation, and will be designated for further improvements to the theater complex, the release says.

Ferlo says he hopes that these branding licenses will open the door for long-time supporters to create a meaningful impact for The Grand for years to come.

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