Mount Baker Theatre gets help to improve seating in Walton venue

Mount Baker Theatre plans to upgrade the seating in its Harold and Irene Walton Theatre with the support of a $68,000 grant from The M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust and a matching grant of $24,668 from Whatcom Community Foundation that was funded by the Mount Baker Theatre Designated Non-Endowed Fund.

Additional funding for the $136,000 project is from personal contributions by members of the Mount Baker Theatre Board of Directors and a Board-approved capital expenditure.

Mount Baker Theatre will use the grants to replace the wood risers and armless chairs currently used in the Walton Theatre with an engineered metal riser system manufactured by StageRight and fold-up theatre seating for 168 manufactured by Wenger Corporation.

To accommodate the new equipment, Dawson Construction will widen a door between the Walton Theatre and backstage.

Theater directors said the new seating system will be more comfortable for patrons by providing armrests between chairs and spring-loaded, fold-up seats that will add walking room between rows. Carpeting on the risers will also reduce noise.

The Harold and Irene Walton Theatre, a 1,600-sq. ft. black-box venue located inside the Mount Baker Theatre historic building, was constructed in 2004 by replacing a row of Commercial Street storefronts. The Walton is used for plays, concerts, lectures, movies, meetings and receptions, including MBT Rep performances, produced and directed by Mount Baker Theatre since 2007.

The M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust was created by the will of the late Melvin J. “Jack” Murdock, who was a co-founder of Tektronix, Inc. of Beaverton, Ore., and a resident of Vancouver, Wash.. Since its establishment in 1975, the trust has focused most of its grant-making efforts in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.

For more information on the Jack Murdock story, the programs and activities of the Trust, and its staff, visit

The Whatcom Community Foundation is a public charitable organization created to enrich the quality of life for all residents of Whatcom County. The foundation is both a grantmaker and a vehicle for donors to accomplish their philanthropic dreams.

It is online at


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