Lifestyles Theater

Mini theatre founder has lots to celebrate

As the Augusta Mini Theatre marks its 48th anniversary this month, its founder has a lot to celebrate.

Tyrone Butler, who started the organization with a variety show at the Wallace Branch Library in October 1975, said the organization exceeded its fundraising goal on Aug. 31 to build the second phase – a theater – on its south Augusta campus.

About 4 p.m. that day, we went over by a few thousand,” Butler said. “That money came through regular donors. Fifty dollars here, $25 there.”

The organization moved into the first phase of its Deans Bridge Road campus in 2008. The building has classrooms, a black box theater and administrative space.  Since then, Butler had been working to raise funds for the second phase.

A previous special purpose local option sales tax designated about $1.3 million for the construction of a theater with the stipulation that the Mini Theatre raise the additional funds needed to finish the project.

“We had to come down a little. We started with 250 seats. That ballooned to $5 million. We came down to 150 seats, and that was like $2.5 million. As we got closer to the deadline, we scaled down to about 100 seats, $1.9 million.”

Read more: Augusta Mini Theatre raises funds for a dream

Tyrone Butler with Augusta Mini Theatre high school graduates. An Oct. 10 fundraiser will be held for its college textbook scholarship. Courtesy photo

Butler said he hopes that the theater will be completed in time for the organization’s 50th anniversary in 2025. Additional funds are expected in October as several events are planned in honor of the anniversary.

From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7, members of the staff and board of directors as well a students and volunteers will accept donations during a drive-thru event at 2548 Deans Bridge Rd. Drivers should blow their horns as they pass by.

A symposium is scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 8 at the Deans Bridge Road location. Butler said it will be a time to reminisce and highlight what the Mini Theatre has meant to people over the years.

Festivities will round out at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 10 with the 11th Sunshine Roast and Toast of James JR Riles  at the Church of the Good Shepherd, 2230 Walton Way.

This is the first roast since the pandemic.

Booker T Roberson, Ken Cone, Curtis Cisrow, Former Commissioner Marion Williams, Former Augusta Fire Chief Ronnie Few, Keith Johnson and John Manton will be among the toasters and roasters.

The event raises funds for the Mariah McKie Butler Memorial College Book Scholarship which provides Augusta Mini Theatre graduates up to $500 for college textbooks. It’s named in memory of Butler’s mother.

Charmain Z. Brackett, the publisher of Augusta Good News, has covered Augusta’s news for 35 years. Reach her at Sign up for the newsletter here.

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