Breathing New Life Into This Landmark
THE HEART THEATRE RETURNS: OUR STORY
Reviving The Heart Behind the Scenes
Over the years, several of us have visited The Heart and thought back fondly on our "first movie" there as a child or prom photos atop the marquee.
Thanks to the protective efforts of past owner Tad Sligar over the past decade and with the interest of some former Effingham natives, we hope to breathe new life into The Heart...and the entire community.
We believe that together, as a community, we are all better and can make a restored, beautiful Heart venue something for us all to be proud of and enjoy.
Amy Van Bergen is the current owner who plans to donate the historic property to a local nonprofit established specifically to oversee the renovations and operations for The Heart.
To bring The Heart back to life, we have been getting input regularly from local Effingham nonprofits as well as city and county leaders, in addition to historic preservation architects, nonprofit CPAs, and historic theatre renovation and operations experts. Phase I of a feasibility study has occurred with local focus groups and a public meeting held in November 2022. Phase II of the feasibility study, focused on renovation costs and operating budgets, is in the works as of Spring 2023.
Amy, now living in Florida, was born in Effingham and kept a residence there into the 1990s. She is a retired nonprofit executive and saw "Snow White" at the Heart when she was five years old.
Van Bergen purchased The Heart in July 2022 to donate to a local nonprofit. Why? Van Bergen says, "I love The Heart Theatre and didn’t want to see it get torn down ... Tad Sligar has championed this project for the past decade and trusted me enough to pass the torch. I hope to see The Heart revived and reestablished as an anchor in Downtown Effingham for the community to enjoy once again."