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Philanthropists give storm-damaged Freefall Theatre a boost

The roof peeled back at Freefall Theatre due to winds from Hurricane Irma at 6099 Central Avenue in St. Petersburg. DIRK SHADD | Times
Published Sep. 19, 2017

ST. PETERSBURG — The sun has come out for Freefall Theatre.

A week after Hurricane Irma blew off sections of roof sheeting, a gift has put the theater on the way to a full recovery. Philanthropists Kate Tiedemann and Ellen Cotton have pledged to match all contributions for the theater's fundraising campaign, up to $100,000.

"It was so generous of them," Freefall development director Margaret Murray said. "This was not a gift we had asked them to make."

Insurance covered water damage to the theater's interior, such as its flooring, lighting and audio equipment, the theater said last week.

Leaders moved White Fang, an adaptation of the Jack London novel, from black-box performing space to an adjacent auditorium, and pushed the date from Sept. 30 to Oct. 7. Those repairs could take three months.

Insurance did not cover the roof, which will cost an estimated $90,000 to replace.

"At one point early last Monday, we were seriously considering whether the theater would be able to make it through this," said Murray. "We were faced with going to the community with devastating news. Now we know that because of this community we can make it through."

Contact Andrew Meacham at ameacham@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2248. Follow @torch437.

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