Cambria theater calls off fundraising campaign

A campaign to raise funds needed to reopen the Pewter Plough Playhouse in Cambria was called off after lease negotiations reached an impasse, the nonprofit group that staged shows at the theater announced Tuesday.

The building is owned by Jim Buckley, 97, who, with his late wife, Olga, opened the West Village venue in 1976, attracting theater-goers from across the county and the state. For more than a decade, a tax-deductible nonprofit organization has produced the shows, while Buckley retained ownership of the building.

When public safety officials ordered the building closed until a fire-prevention sprinkler system is installed, the Pewter Plough Players nonprofit group began raising the $32,000 needed to install the system. As the nonprofit group would be paying for the system, it was seeking to negotiate a lease with Buckley to ensure it would benefit from use of those sprinklers for years to come.

Those negotiations broke off Monday, according to Viv Goff, a member of the nonprofit group’s board of directors. She said all money donated to pay for the sprinklers will be returned to the donors, and a previously announced fundraising dinner April 18 has been canceled.

Neither side offered specifics of what stalled the negotiations over terms of the lease.

The theater closed Feb. 28. A permit to install the sprinklers expires July 31.

— Bert Etling