The Sheridan City Council approved forgiving the WYO Performing Arts and Education Center's debt to the city for its use of a historic downtown theater. The city has owned the building since the 1980s, but the WYO is responsible for maintaining and managing the property.
The WYO's board of directors asked the city to consider the debt forgiveness as an investment into the property.
The WYO's Executive Director Erin Butler said the WYO acquired the debt from some past construction projects. They thought it had been paid back, but a city audit in August showed they still owed $83,112.32. She said they didn't expect the city council to agree to forgive the debt, but they hoped they saw the theater's value to the community.
"Our purpose is to bring value to downtown Sheridan, to Sheridan itself, and to provide a place for people to gather. And I think because we're successful at that, that it's become an important piece of what Sheridan is," Butler said.
In exchange, the WYO will make a space available for community members to host events and meetings. She said local nonprofits and groups will be able to access the room outside of regular WYO business hours.
"We don't know the verbiage yet, but it's something to indicate it's a gift from the city of Sheridan or the people of Sheridan," Butler said.
The WYO also recently received a grant from the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund that will help towards the cost of building new studios on the third floor of the center. That, along with the debt forgiveness, will allow the theater to finish up current construction projects, Butler said.
"The gift of the city makes it that much more tangible. It just makes that process so much easier, and we're grateful for that," she said.
Butler said they plan to have the room ready next month.