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York City's Weary Arts Group to transform Dallastown site into new theater space

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch
Weary Arts Group CEO Calvin Weary stands outside the Dallas Theatre in Dallastown Monday, April 19, 2021. He is planning to make the former theater home base for his arts group. Bill Kalina photo

Musicals, comedy shows and film screenings will bring life to the former Dallas Theatre in Dallastown after a performing arts group purchased the space.

Weary Arts Group took the leap to purchase the 5,000-square-foot space three months ago for $88,000, according to CEO Calvin Weary.

Since then, Weary and his crew have been working to reconstruct the old theater into a space the performing arts troupe can call home.

"We had been looking for space inside the city for a number of years. We rented spaces here and there, but nothing was home," Weary said. "It just never occurred to me that I would want to set up space in Dallastown."

Weary Arts Group CEO Calvin Weary mugs with a vintage 60-year-old spotlight among theatric props at the Dallas Theatre in Dallastown Monday, April 19, 2021. The light was borrowed from his group to illuminate the white rose drop during the York City New Year's Eve celebrations. He is planning to make the former theater home base for his arts group. Bill Kalina photo

Weary Arts Group, a for-profit organization located in York City, primarily works with nonprofit partners including The Belmont Theatre, TAFE (Theatre Arts For Everyone) and DreamWrights Center for Community Arts.

After much trial and error, Weary said he realized he wanted a space to host performances and classes, and he knew the former Dallas Theatre could fill that need.

"Our bread and butter is going to other people's places and doing stuff," Weary said. "The idea is to have a space that can transform depending on what we're doing there."

Weary estimated about $500,000 will go into construction costs for the theater.

While the former Dallas Theatre could seat about 500, Weary said he wants to reduce that capacity to 150 to capture that intimate, "black box" theater vibe.

Weary Arts Group CEO Calvin Weary talks about his business near a ticket booth prop and costume rack at the Dallas Theatre in Dallastown Monday, April 19, 2021. He is planning to make the former theater home base for his arts group. Bill Kalina photo

While live performances will keep the stage busy, a large screen will be installed to showcase independent films. Other features, including classes, improv nights and comedy shows, will take center stage at Weary's building.

Cameras will also be set up around the theater to enable livestreaming for all live performances to Weary Arts Group's growing online base. 

Weary said he expects the stage to be ready for shows by fall.

"There is a need for people to tell their stories, and we can fulfill that need," Weary said. "To have a place where we can always put something on the stage is invaluable."

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.

Weary Arts Group CEO Calvin Weary sits in a band practice space at the Dallas Theatre in Dallastown Monday, April 19, 2021. He is planning to make the former theater home base for his arts group. Bill Kalina photo