The Mission of the Stiefel Theatre for the Performing Arts is to provide quality experiences that enrich, educate and entertain. The theatre is available for use by community groups for their events, and is the home of the fabulous Salina Symphony. The Stiefel was build to project voices and the excellent sound is now enhanced with superb technology.
The Stiefel Theatre was opened in 1931 as the Fox-Watson Theater, named after its founder W. W. Watson and the Fox Theater Company which purchased it just before its completion. The Fox-Watson, designed by the Carl and Robert Boller in Kansas City, was built for $400,000. It featured a lavish Art Deco style, with gleaming chandeliers, mirrored ceilings, a glamorous staircase and glittering gold leaf throughout. At the theatre’s opening, Salina Mayor Charles F. Dobbs stated, “This is an event of great importance, not only to the citizens of Salina but the entire central and northwestern territory. It brings to our door a dream of metropolitan entertainment and a place in the front rank of theaters second to none of any city in the middle-west.” In 1989 its current owners, Dickinson Theatres, gave the theatre to the City of Salina. Thankfully the City repaired the roof of the theatre and mothballed it until 1997 when it was turned over to a non-profit group for restoration, which was completed in 2003. Many people made the renovation possible including Norm Yenkey, who worked tirelessly to head the renovation. The theatre was renamed the Stiefel Theatre thanks to a donation by Milton Stiefel and the City of Salina and re-opened in 2003. 2019 brings another development. Salina’s downtown is undergoing a huge transformation thanks to the City of Salina, Star Bond funding and Salina 2020, made up of many visionary people in Salina. The Stiefel will be upgraded thanks to this funding with more bathrooms upstairs, a remodeled Watson Room, stage and backstage improvements. We also have received a donation to help rebuild the original tower that was destroyed by a storm in the 1950’s! The Stiefel presents the top touring acts traveling through, and houses the magnificent Salina Symphony. 65% of our audiences come in from the region and beyond. These magnificent old and intimate theatres – many that haven’t survived – are a treasure to be supported and protected.