AUSTIN (KXAN) — You’ve seen the iconic neon sign that lights up Congress Avenue day and night.
But what you might not know about the Paramount Theatre, one of downtown Austin’s most famous sights, is that it is non-profit and relies on the community for support.
That’s especially true this coming weekend, as the KXAN Simple Health Austin Marathon 5K on Sunday benefits the theater.
Money raised from the race will go towards the Paramount’s extensive education programs, as well as preservation.
After all, as Natalie Seeboth, associate director of corporate and special initiatives at the Paramount explained, the building is 105 years old, which means “you never know what might go wrong.”
History is vitally important at the Paramount, a performing arts venue since 1915 that boasts the oldest stage in Texas, and it plays a major role in repairs and refurbishment, Seeboth said.
“When we do a big preservation project, it’s very important culturally and historically that we maintain the integrity of the building as it was built in 1915,” she said.
So you can’t use tools for today’s building to recreate what was built in 1915. You have to get tools that are faithful to how the building was originally built to be able to do those improvements, and that’s expensive.”Natalie Seeboth, associate director of corporate and special initiatives at the Paramount
“You can’t just go to Home Depot and buy a light fixture — you have to have an artisan recreate that fixture as it was made in 1915,” she said. “Those are costly, and we can plan as much as we can, but you never know.”
Every year, the Paramount hosts more than 250 performances and screens more than 100 movies, all while remaining a non-profit organization.
This presents a number of challenges, Seeboth explained.
“Non-profit status is something that a lot of people don’t know we have that. We have a number of programs outside of what we do just with performances, so just ticket pricing is not enough to keep us going,” she said.
That’s where the 5K comes in.
In the past three years, Seeboth said the Paramount has received more than $65,000 through its partnership.
“It is incredibly valuable to us,” she said. “It’s another way of reminding people that we are here, that we are non-profit, and that people are able to help us just by participating in community events.”
The 5K is among the program of events at this year’s marathon, which kicks off early Sunday morning.
And runners won’t be able to forget the initiative they are supporting — the 5K takes place on Congress Avenue with the finish line right outside the historic theatre.
“When you participate in this event, you are keeping the Paramount here and available to Austinites,” Seeboth added.