In March, 2013, the Bonham Theatre Project Board of Directors contacted the UNK Center for Rural Research & Development (CRRD) about conducting a community survey in Fairbury and the surrounding area. The Board drafted some key project planning and development issues regarding community needs and market feasibility for the rehabilitation of Fairbury’s historic movie theater. The questionnaire was finalized in April 2013 and was divided into four areas of interest including: 1) Demographics, 2) Show Preferences, 3) Attendance Expectations, and 4) Other. All surveys were mailed on April 26, 2013. Surveys collected by May 17, 2013 were electronically scanned using University equipment and software. Funding for the survey was provided in part by a grant from the Sherwood Foundation.
Over 1,272 people returned a survey regarding their preferences for shows and attendance of the proposed redeveloped historic Bonham Theatre. The survey was completed by 232 junior or high school students and 1,040 household representatives age 19 and older. The data shows that just under half of the Fairbury area residents who responded would attend entertainment events at least 1‐2 times a month or more. 2D or 3D movies were reported as the most popular type of show (75% definitely or probably attending) with 72% of respondents that would definitely or probably attend live plays, and concerts and comedians recorded 70% in the positive.
The youth demographic age group (age 14‐18) shows stronger support regarding general movie attendance compared to the largest group of older survey respondents (age 55 and over).
More than half of all residents reported a willingness to drive more than 15 miles. Movies rated G, PG, and PG13 received slightly more support than R rated movies. Fridays and Saturdays had the highest preferences for attending evening movies based on the day‐of‐the‐week. But, Sunday received slightly more support for attending an afternoon matinee.
Sixty percent (60%) of respondents preferred digital projection, with live streamed concerts receiving the most support at 53% definitely or probably planning to attend this type of venue at the theatre. Nearly half of the people had interest in hosting birthday parties at the theatre.
“The results of the survey give us confidence that the community will not only support the theatre, but give us direction as to the types of entertainment they want to see there,” according to board member, Julie Katz. “The survey results will be used as a basis for drafting a plan for the rehabilitation of the historic theater by identifying the renovations required to adequately serve the community and ensure the viability of the Bonham The