Fans help Arcada Theatre recover from storm damage

  • The Arcada Theater in downtown St. Charles.

      The Arcada Theater in downtown St. Charles. Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 

The generosity of Arcada Theatre fans helped the century-old hub of St. Charles' downtown recover from some recent unexpected storm damage. But the constant maintenance required for the aging structure is taking a toll on more than the building.

"It's a monster to keep this place going," said Ron Onesti, who manages the facility. "It gets to a point where if it's one guy trying to do it all himself like it has been, it's not worth it."

Onesti books all the acts at the theater. He manages the business operations. He oversaw the opening of the new Club Arcada speak-easy and showroom. And he is the lead promoter for the location. That's all manageable for Onesti, he said.

But when recent storms caused damage to plaster, and alternating hot and cold temperatures made the terrazzo crack, he said he found himself a little beaten down by the effort.

Onesti reached out to fans of the theater via the Arcada's Facebook page. He urged them to buy tickets, the proceeds of which would assist with repairs. The money raised funded about one-third of the costs. The rest came out of his own pocket, something that's not an unusual occurrence, he said.

But Onesti isn't in search of anyone's charity. When fans suggested Onesti start a GoFundMe page to raise donations for theater repairs, he declined.

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"I feel funny about that," Onesti said. "This isn't a not-for-profit organization, though it ends up that way sometimes. This is a business."

It's a business city officials believe will play a vital role in a thriving downtown. Onesti is in ongoing conversations with the city for the theater and its events to take on a much larger footprint in St. Charles. The theater may be old and have some cracks, but Onesti said it's in St. Charles to stay.

"We've completed the repairs," he said. "And there are a lot of people who love this place. We're in good shape."

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