Panida gives update to Century Fund at annual membership meeting

By Ben Olson
Reader Staff

The annual Panida Theater membership meeting took place Monday, Oct. 16, with attendees receiving updates on the Century Fund campaign, as well as electing members to the board.

Board Chairman Jim Healey started off the night thanking some of the Panida’s historic supporters, including Susan Bates-Harbuck, Tari Pardini and longtime former-Managing Director Karen Bowers, who oversaw the Panida for 27 years.

“I also want to recognize our staff, Katelyn Shook, Todd Michael, Doug Jones and Mindy Thacker, who is the grants coordinator with the Century Fund,” Healy said. “These people have helped keep the Panida running and going.”

After thanking the volunteers for their time, Healey opened the stage to four board members up for election: Sean Behm, Jeremiah Greenfield and Dan Thompson — who were interim members appointed in June to take the seats of former board members — as well as Gail Trotta, who was running for a two-year term on the board. 

Photo by Ben Olson.

Each candidate gave a brief statement about why they wished to serve on the board, and a ballot was passed around to the audience. Ultimately, all four were elected.

“We have applications for those interested in becoming a board member,” Healey said. “Just go online to We’re always looking for qualified people to join the board and join the fun.”

Behm then gave a synopsis of the hiring committee’s search for a new managing director after the most recent director resigned in the summer.

“We’ve done a pretty exhaustive search and had a lot of applicants,” said Behm, later confirming that the board had about 15 people apply for the position. “We’re down to the final candidates for final interviews, which will take place Thursday [Oct. 19]. After that, we’ll have an announcement forthcoming.”

Chris Bessler then gave a report on the Century Fund campaign, which aims to raise $1.9 million before the Panida reaches an important 100-year milestone in November 2027.

Bessler said the Century Fund blew away the first-year goal of raising $273,100. Including donations from community members, grants collected as of Oct. 1 and a $200,000 matching pledge offered by Ting Internet, the first-year total raised was $438,755. 

Grants included those from the Equinox Foundation, the Confidence Foundation, the Idaho Gem Community Fund and Avista, as well as Ting’s matching pledge, of which $75,000 has been paid out. There are also grants from Idaho Heritage Trust and the Equinox Foundation that have yet to be collected, including another $100,000 from the Equinox Foundation and another $125,000.

Projects accomplished with the Phase 1 funds include a new roof for the Panida, a marquee restoration and repair, new stairs behind the Little Theater and a refurbishment of the Little Theater interior.

Phase 2 calls for a smaller goal of only $100,000 before Phase 3 and 4 goals aim to tackle a large project — the main theater interior restoration. Phase 3 plans for $788,000 while Phase 4 will seek $715,000. The fifth and final phase will seek an additional $75,000 to finalize plans for the big centennial celebration on Nov. 22, 2027 — exactly 100 years after the first time the Panida opened for an event.

Those who donate less than $5,000 to the Panida now are still covered with Ting’s matching grant, so Bessler encouraged any who haven’t already given to show their support for the historic theater.

Grant Coordinator Thacker introduced a Five Year Century Fund Circle, which encourages donors to repledge an annual donation until the centennial celebration. 

Events Coordinator Katelyn Shook gave a brief presentation about several successful recent events, including the recent sold out performance of David DaVinci’s “Thrillusionist” show.

“We’ve had 11 events since I joined the Panida, and the latest Thrillusionist event ended up being a huge fundraiser for the Panida,” Shook said. “We raised over $6,000 for the theater that night. Huge thank you to David DaVinci, who is an incredibly talented local guy who was very entertaining.”

For more info, including how to donate, visit

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