Doozie and I were out for dinner a few weeks ago and Tony Callendrello walked past our table. I asked him if the IOKA effort was over as it’s been awhile with no reports and he said, “Yes, we will be returning your donation”

Though this was news and certainly  of interest to many, I wanted to wait for the organization to  prepare their formal statement.

They worked very hard to try and pull this together .  There never was a white knight in my opinion, just a speculator who probably was very difficult.

Here is the note I received  from the Exeter Theater Company.

Discussing this morning with Doozie we are just rolling our refund out over the many holiday requests for donations locally.

There’s really  nothing to say but “what a bummer” and that’s how I feel today, despite  having known for weeks.



Dear Friends,

As you may recall, we at the Exeter Theater Company promised you, our generous supporters, that if we were unable to successfully acquire the IOKA Theater and raise the funds to restore and reopen it, we would return your money. After much consideration and after exploring numerous options, we have made the difficult decision to suspend our efforts to acquire the IOKA and return your donations.

This chapter of our story has come to an end. We came together, supported by thousands of our friends, neighbors and members of the greater Exeter community in an attempt to bring film and live entertainment to Exeter at the historic IOKA Theater. Cherished for its folklore, its beauty, and personal stories, the IOKA offered the potential to create a lasting place where these memories could be relived and new ones made.

The Exeter Theater Company is and has been served by wonderfully talented individuals who have given of themselves to achieve the vision of reopening the IOKA. There have been untold hours, interrupted personal and family schedules, favors sought and received, strategies, tactics, fundraising, speeches, articles, interviews, surveys, videos, projections, philosophies, costs, donations. Along the way we made new friends, visited other similar venues, developed conceptual designs, and came up with estimates for the needed renovations and equipment. Throughout this entire effort, high expectations were established and a sound vision was created. I truly appreciate our past and present Board members and volunteers that worked so closely to try to realize this vision. Their creativity and imagination was staggering.

So what happened? A lot of factors conspired against us but, in the end, the economic climate and timing wasn’t right. We had many productive conversations with major donors and potential partners in this venture. All of them expressed their sincere desire to see the IOKA returned to life but various obstacles and circumstances prevented them from providing financial backing.

Throughout it all, we never compromised our values. There were moments when we could have risked your money on agreements with a low likelihood of success. We made the often-difficult decision to hold your donations securely, wanting to commit your money only on a fair and sustainable option. We tasked ourselves to be careful and reliable stewards of your money and I feel we’ve succeeded in that.

Our friends in the local business community could not have been more supportive. They understood the benefit a thriving theater would bring to this downtown and shared our passion. They gave what they could and encouraged us every step of the way. To the vendors who provided materials, talent, expertise, and advice – we thank you and yearn to have paid you back twofold.

We are beginning the administrative task of printing and mailing your checks. We anticipate having them out to you in by the end of the year. Please note that if your donation was $600 or more, you will also receive a W-9 form so that we can satisfy the requirements of the Internal Revenue Service.

Obviously, we are all disappointed at this outcome but remain committed to our mission of restoring the IOKA to its former glory for the enjoyment of Exeter and the NH Seacoast. We can only hope that some future opportunity to do so presents itself.

As always, feel free to contact me directly with questions at


Tony Callendrello

Chair, Board of Directors

Exeter Theater Company

Our mailing address is:

P.O. Box 275

Exeter, NH 03833-0275


We came home from CT last Sunday and after retrieving Bailey from Bittersweet Kennel, we headed over to Hampton.

The cupboard was bare and we had a coupon for the Community Oven, it was very nice, we will return . I understand that this “anchor” has saved that plaza. The Blue Lobster Brewing Company is right next door too. I sampled this brew over the holidays  and it’s very good. The brewery has a tasting room, better check the schedule for times.

There is also a consignment shop with a nice selection of funky attire. It’s the “3 Sisters Consignment Boutique ” and the owner is the Mother of a popular local disc jockey.

The plaza is basically a great date.

“How do these green cowboy boots look on me?”

I noticed they sponsor a fundraiser night at Community Oven  for local organizations and communicated that to my IOKA contact, Diane Wieler. If you  have an idea on how we can continue to raise money, pass it along.

That Buster Keaton night was great!

Here’s the deal, we need to be thinking about this theater, attending any fundraising event they come up with and contributing if you have not already. Most people that participated  in the initial appeal went in for 100.00. I am assuming at least from here that group can be counted on again. That 100.00  had strings attached, those strings are cut now, to make those funds earnest.

The Community really needs to be thinking about the IOKA, talking about it.


This fundraising team as you can imagine is contacting those philanthropists amongst with great means and hearts. I would imagine those decisions would be easier, if those generous people could feel the buzz, the anticipation.

It’s so great to see the marquee lighted up.

“We WILL do this”

Trevor  Bartlett


We can do this


Doozie and I joined a guest  and a packed house at Town Hall last night to experience some movie magic.


An evident cross section of the Community attended to  support the effort to get the IOKA back on it’s feet.

There is no time to waste, if you have not participated yet,it is  time to send that check, there is no other way to say it.

Jeff Rapsis put on a tremendous performance on his synthesizer, providing the musical accompaniment. Here is link to Jeff’s page, I hope we have him back for another performance at the IOKA . Silent film Blogspot

He was dripping at the intermission, he plays with such fervor!

Doozie could not stop laughing during the second feature “The Cameraman”, it was the monkey.



We were still talking about that monkey this morning,  if you have a few moments you might enjoy this silent movie we located linked below, it has a cast of trained simians.

Make sure you make it to the next IOKA event. The staff they have assembled to move this forward is really top notch and experienced. Trevor Bartlett acting as host  had the crowd charged up with enthusiasm and promise. Any doubts I may have harbored prior to last night were dispelled.

We can do this.


IOKA Visioning Sessions

Kyle and I never got  the opportunity  to screen  the River film at the IOKA due to the need for sprinklers and subsequent closing.

You could  make a movie though, or your son or daughter could and  for sure find yourself at  the IOKA premiere in the near future.

“Carol have you ordered the red carpet?”

Anything is possible.

In an effort  to hone our Community expectations of the IOKA moving forward, the Exeter Theater Company has scheduled  two visioning sessions for Community  involvement.


The Press Release

EXETER, NH: The public is encouraged to attend one of two upcoming forums at the Exeter Town Hall to contribute ideas towards new programs for the future renovated Ioka Theater. The first session will be on Wednesday January 18th from 6-8pm, hosted by the Exeter Heritage Commission, and facilitated by Van McLeod, Commissioner, New Hampshire Department of Cultural Resources. The second, hosted by the Exeter Economic Development Commission will be on Saturday January 21st from 9-11am, facilitated by Community Development Specialist Ea Ksander. “For many years I have watched the trials and tribulations of the Ioka Theater. Now at last I feel there is a real opportunity to create a true community based theater that will present and produce the performing arts and film in a first class facility for the region,” remarked Van McLeod.

The Exeter Theater Company seeks creative community input and ideas on the potential range of programs for children, youth and adults that could include live music, theater, dance, concerts, comedy, independent and local films, and local programming. The theater used to hold over 400 seats and has a large lower-floor space that can be utilized as part of the new operations.

The non-profit Exeter Theater Company was established to preserve and operate the historic 1915 Art Deco Ioka Theater as a vital center for arts and culture. The vision – the historic Ioka Theater is the star of Exeter, a financially sustainable cultural institution presenting a wide range of theater and arts programs that creates excitement, pride and support within our community. A new membership program was launched in mid-December to help revive the historic theater with the goal of having 1,000 members by March 31, 2012. ‘Premiere’ members will be recognized with their names on a special wall in the theater lobby, on new theater seats, and special plaques. When the theater reopens to the public, members will be part of a grand gala opening event. To support this historic endeavor, become a volunteer, receive the e-news and join as a member sign up at or contact Contributions and memberships can also be sent to Exeter Theater Company, PO Box 275, Exeter, NH 03833.