Decatur’s Princess Theatre developing big plans for the future with push from city council

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DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) - Decatur City Council approved its annual funding allotment for the Princess Theater, Monday, but the year's stipend was not always a sure thing.

Council members told the non-profit's board of directors in order to earn their $80,000 allowance from the city, they needed to have some long-term plans in place.

The city's contribution is a small part of the theater's $500,000 to $600,000 annual budget, but it plays a big role.

"That's more or less our seed money to secure the acts that come in because when we book an act, we've got to pay half their fee up front," said Board of Directors Chair Ellis Chenault.

The board is still working out the details, so Chenault said he cannot divulge the specifics just yet, but the members have innovative plans in the works that include a wider variety of events and music for the iconic theater.

"Part of the financial issues is not having enough programming. And we're working on a number of things, not only to satisfy the citizens of Decatur, but to become a regional theater, as well."

Chenault wants to see the number of programs at the Princess to double in this first year of change, from roughly 150 to around 300.

More patrons lining up at the box office, means more sustainability for the theater.

"I would love for it to be self-sufficient and have a nice bank account," he said. "The primary goal is just to make the Princess the best it can be and if that means that the city needs to fund us to some extent, then that's what we'll ask for, but the goal is to make it the absolute finest it can be."

The board of directors is also welcoming ideas and input from the community. If you would like to share your thoughts, send an email to

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