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The Sandusky State Theatre

The Challenge.

For almost a century, the Sandusky State Theatre has been a jewel on the Lake Erie shore—a place where locals and visitors alike come together to experience the power of the performing arts and enjoy special events as a community. But on June 10, 2020, neighbors gathered at the Theatre to take in a very different sight. A storm with winds of over 55 miles per hour had blown the roof off the building, collapsed the auditorium ceiling, and destroyed the stage and seating areas. Although the damage was devastating, the catastrophe brought Erie County residents together to imagine a brighter future for the Theatre and the region.


Plans to preserve, restore, and expand the Theatre were set into motion. Insurance, government funding, tax credits, and community donors already accounted for a large portion of the project’s budget. But Theatre leaders still needed to raise $7 million in order to complete construction and reopen to the public.

The Strategy.

As construction crews worked, our team met with Sandusky State Theatre leadership to identify and engage key community influencers in a brief campaign planning study. The results set the campaign on the path for even greater success.


We recommended an integrated approach, combining a targeted fundraising strategy for major gifts with a robust campaign marketing plan to engage the broader community.


The fundraising strategy focused on fostering relationships with top donor prospects through private guided tours of the Theatre construction. These tours, combined with tailored outreach and stewardship plans, spoke to donors’ desire to nurture a vibrant arts scene in Sandusky while bolstering the local economy.


The campaign marketing plan began with the establishment of a campaign brand that pays homage to the Theatre’s history as a community institution while looking forward to its impact on generations to come: For the Next 100 Years. We established a consistent, intentional cadence of communications and created a suite of collateral materials, including a strong case for support, a social media campaign, and a monthly campaign e-newsletter. The Cramer team also organized a successful public campaign kickoff event that set Sandusky humming with excitement.

Project Facts

$ 0 Million
0 Year

The Result.

As of May 2024, the For the Next 100 Years campaign is more than 94% to goal, and the community buzz around the Sandusky State Theatre is stronger than ever as leaders prepare to raise the curtain on a new era of the arts in Sandusky. The Theatre was even featured on Magnolia Network’s popular series Restoration Road with Clint Harp, which documented the project over two+ years.


The Theatre’s social media pages have gained immense traction, reaching more than 50,000 people some months, and local media outlets continue to share the Theatre’s incredible story. Theatre leaders have maintained fundraising momentum, securing many major gifts, and the broader community has also begun to channel their excitement into donations.


The Sandusky State Theatre is set to reopen in 2024, complete with a fully restored auditorium, and new spaces including a second venue, corner pub, outdoor terrace, and art gallery.

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