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Stuart Johnson, Deseret News
Patrons tour the newly remodeled lobby and concessions area at SCERA, which was funded by anonymous community donations.

OREM — At 75 years old, the SCERA Center for the Arts has never looked better.

New paint, blue and red-patterned carpet, two giant stained glass windows and a modernized concession area are the most striking differences in the upgraded State Street theater.

City leaders, SCERA volunteers and interested community members gathered Thursday to celebrate the community center's 75th birthday as well as the new renovation.

"There is no question in our mind that this establishment is important and needs to be here for our community," said Joe Morton, a partner of SCERA and the founder of XanGo. "I dare say there's nobody that hasn't been touched by this great establishment."

Morton praised the SCERA for providing children with "defining moments" that help mold them into the people they will become.

The first upgrade, thanks to the million-dollar partnership with XanGo, was in the Grand Theater, which received new seats and new aesthetic decoration, plus the XanGo name.

The next and just completed phase was a remodel of the lobby and concession area. Thanks to generous anonymous community donors, the SCERA was completely brought up to code, including a $200,000 fire suppression sprinkler system.

"Contributions made us able to do much more than we had planned," said SCERA CEO Adam Robertson. "Certainly we couldn't do any of these things without the support of the wonderful, wonderful community."

Visitors to the theater are now greeted by thick leather couches and giant hanging mirrors in the lobby, with "The Scoop" concession area more centrally located to serve both the XanGo Grand Theater and the smaller live performance theater.

Tom Holdman's giant stained glass windows show a family of three heading toward the SCERA with tickets in hand and a soon-to-be-created window will depict a 1940s car driving toward a glittering SCERA.

"I've done work all over the world," Holdman said. "This is one of my favorite pieces."

The next phase of renovations will be more technical additions to the XanGo Grand Theater, including fly wheels and an expanded stage to allow live productions, rather than just films.

Watching the SCERA grow and expand has been so fulfilling for Cumorah Holdaway, a life-long SCERA lover and supporter.

She told the gathered crowd that she remembers her father taking time away from the farm to come help build the theater in the 1930s.

"The SCERA has been a part of my life all my life," she said. "It has been a wonderful organization. No wonder we call (Orem) Family City USA. It's what every community in the USA ought to be."

Orem City Councilman Carl Hernandez praised the SCERA as a beautiful Orem landmark.

"(SCERA) received from CARE tax the largest major grant," Hernandez said, referring to the one tenth of one-percent sales tax Orem enacted to support nonprofit arts and recreation organizations. "We feel it was well deserved because of the great contributions the SCERA makes to this community."


E-mail: sisraelsen@desnews.com