Governor Laura Kelly today joined local leaders in Wichita to break ground on the historic Dunbar Theatre Restoration Project, and celebrate a $50,000 donation to the project from Walmart.

The Dunbar Theatre was built in 1941, named for African American poet and author Paul Laurence Dunbar. It operated as a theatre until 1963, and was the only movie theater available to the African American community in Wichita. It also served as the cornerstone of a once-thriving commercial hub for Wichita’s African American community.

The restoration project, when complete, will fully renovate the building and turn it into a community-based culture performing arts center.   

“Today I was pleased to celebrate progress on the Dunbar Theater restoration project, which will return the building to its former glory as a cultural hub and elevate the voices of black artists in Wichita and across the state,” Governor Kelly said. “This community’s commitment to bringing the theater back to life will ensure the next generation of artists will have a place to showcase their talents.”   

The below photos of the groundbreaking ceremony are available for media use:

Also pictured: Governor Laura Kelly; Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau; Senator Mary Ware; Representative Gail Finney; Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple; Councilman Brandon Johnson; Adrienne McAlpine, database administration for Wichita State University; Tony Rangel, project manager at Law/Kingdon Architecture; Amy Williams, market manager for Walmart.