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Rotary Charities of Traverse City announced a $50,000 challenge grant to the Traverse City Film Festival to help pay for renovations to the State Theatre's facade.

A downtown movie house, cultural center and food rescue program are among projects to grab a share of $686,500 in Rotary Charities of Traverse City grants.

Rotary Charities this week announced 24 grants to agencies in the five-county region. Grants include one-time awards as well as multiple-year funding renewals.

The Traverse City Film Festival won the largest prize this grant cycle with a $50,000 challenge grant for renovation to the State Theatre’s facade. The grant will be matched dollar-for-dollar by a festival campaign to raise $500,000 by year’s end for building upgrades and community programs.

Rotary Charities turned over the Front Street theater to the film festival for year-round use in 2007.

“We obviously have a commitment to the State Theatre,” said Marsha Smith, executive director of Rotary Charities. “It’s really an important part (of) our downtown. We think it’s a real economic driver to Traverse City, and there’s no doubt that the facade needs to be replaced.”

Crews already began work on the building’s exterior. The festival so far raised $400,000 for its campaign, including $200,000 counted on before the fundraiser’s public launch. Some funds from Rotary were among the dollars included in the pre-launch amount.

“The film festival is obviously enormously and eternally grateful for what Rotary has done for this entire community and especially for the State Theatre,” said the festival’s Deb Lake.

Rotary also awarded grants to other groups, such as $33,000 to the historic Elk Rapids Township Hall to renovate a cultural center. Other recipients included another year of funding for a food rescue and food pantry program and grants to the American Red Cross and Women’s Resource Center.

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