As businesses and arts organizations struggle to keep the bills paid through the pandemic, they have to think outside of the box.   Sometimes the ideas work.  Sometimes they don’t.  Tibbits Opera House in Coldwater’s idea worked pretty well.

Tibbits 41st Annual Auction took on a brand new form as the event went virtual Saturday, November 7, 2020, still raising $51,200 for the historic theater in Coldwater.

Tibbits was built in 1882 and was recently restored to its original look, sporting a French Second Empire façade.  Improvements were also made to serve patrons with disabilities.  In all, $3.4 million has been invested in the restoration.   Tibbits features quality summer theater and children’s theater, as well as concerts.  While most theaters were dark over the summer, Tibbits managed to stage a full season at a nearby outdoor venue.

The recent fundraiser had the theme “CLUE! The Game is On.” The live-stream event was filmed in the empty opera house and still led viewers through a portion of the auction in which bidding was “live” online. The 45-minute “show” featured Ken Delaney as Master of Ceremonies, Darin Spieth, and Dan Satow of Spieth & Satow Auctioneers, Tibbits Executive Director Christine Delaney, and Operations Director Stephanie Burdick. Home Town Media produced the event.

Most of the event featured nearly 400 silent auction items up for bid via the website with sections closing Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. A Super Silent Section, featuring many of the items which in the past would have been on the live auction, encouraged bidding through the evening, closing after the live auction. According to Christine Delaney, “The initial response is people enjoyed the new format, but we all hope we can return to an in-person event for next year.”

According to the Tibbits Board President Rick Merrill, “Our Tibbits staff did a great job rethinking the traditional event into a safe and unique event for the community. Kudos to their creativity and a huge thank you to all of the donors, bidders, and sponsors who still showed their support of our community’s gem. The support for this theatre is heart-warming.”

Dinners and special experiences highlighted the items up for bid and garnered some very generous donations.

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