Santa Ynez Valley native Michelle Ball is proud to know that support for the Lompoc Theatre Project, of which she is a board member, reaches far beyond the Central Coast.
Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus and her husband, writer-director Brad Hall, have made the first major donation to the Lompoc Theatre Project, kicking off the nonprofit group’s capital campaign to raise $6 million to restore and reopen the theater.
“We are thrilled and honored to be involved in the Lompoc Theatre Project,” Louis-Dreyfus said. “We are firm believers that this theater will be the beating cultural heart of the community.”
Ball moved to Lompoc five years ago with her husband, Jeremy. They own and operate Bottle Branding, a media company that provides images for the food, wine and spirits industries.
“Growing up in the Santa Ynez Valley, there was a misperception that Lompoc was “ghetto.” Once I moved here, I immediately realized the city’s enormous potential. It’s a beach town, right off Highway 1, with world class wineries, La Purisima Mission Historic State Park and nearly perfect weather year round,” Ball said.
She can easily see the downtown becoming a mini San Luis Obispo, she said, walkable and full of culture. The theater sits in the center of old town and she also considers it to be the heart of the community. The LTP campaign intends to reopen the abandoned theater to provide the community with arts, culture and entertainment.
“I hope those in Santa Ynez seize the opportunity to be a part of Lompoc’s future, because it’s going to happen. There’s absolutely no stopping this,” Ball said.
Louis-Dreyfus, known to millions as Elaine Benes from “Seinfeld,” just won her ninth overall and fifth consecutive Emmy Award for her role as Vice President Selina Meyer in the HBO series “Veep,” which she also produces.
Hall met Mark Herrier, president of the LTP board of directors, while Hall and Herrier were students at Hancock College and members of Pacific Conservatory Theatre (PCPA). Hall and Louis-Dreyfus met while both were attending Northwestern University, and they married in 1987.
LTP will use the couple’s donation to remove hazardous materials from inside the theater, which has been shuttered since the late 1980s.
“That’s why I’m on the board. We finally have the keys and can actually make this thing happen,” Ball said.
Earlier this year, the board completed testing for mold, asbestos and other potentially hazardous substances, and secured a quote from a professional remediation team. The next task will be to repair and eventually replace the roof, which has several leaks, and other structural damage.
“I was born in Santa Barbara County and can’t wait to see this project start, finish and flourish,” Hall added.
For more information or to get involved, log onto www.lompoctheatre.org.