Constantine developing programming to attract visitors

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

It’s hard to drive through downtown Pawhuska without at least passing the Constantine Theater, located just east of City Hall on Main Street (Oklahoma 60). An effort is under way, however, to encourage more people to enter the building on a regular basis for entertainment and educational purposes.

Shannon Martin, executive director of the Burford Theater in Arkansas City, Kansas, is serving as a consultant/interim director at the Constantine for a few months to help develop programming. Martin said her four-month agreement to assist the Constantine started at the beginning of March.

“I am just hired to help the board. I have experience in operating and running a theater,” Martin said. “I am very excited about the possibilities for the Constantine Theater.”

Martin said that while Pawhuska has a smaller population that Arkansas City, Kansas (just under 12,000 in Arkansas City to about 3,350 in Pawhuska), Pawhuska has an “amazing” daily draw of visitors.

Martin said she will be working to build interest in the Constantine and its programming among residents of Pawhuska and surrounding areas, but also to develop interest among tourists.

One of the early programming options that is available to everyone with a half-hour to burn is the showing, from Mondays through Saturdays, of documentary films that provide information about Osage County and Oklahoma.

The films are being shown from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays. Admission is free and the concession stand will offer refreshments for sale. A poster describes the showings as “continuous” in 20-minute loops.

Martin mentioned documentary films about subjects such as the 101 Ranch and the Osage Reign of Terror. She also mentioned films about ranchers and the Tallgrass Prairie.

The Constantine will, hopefully, be able to attract family members of visitors to Pawhuska who are shopping nearby at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile.

Martin said consideration was being given to holding a talent show and offering people the opportunity to try out to be in the show. The theater is also looking at possible events for the weekend before Cattlemen’s Week, which will be in mid-June. That week is being rebranded as “Ben Johnson Days.”

During spring break, the Constantine sought to connect with the public by offering “Sidewalk Sounds”, featuring live music in front of the theater on several evenings. 

Martin noted the signage on the Constantine had changed, so that the name is shown as “Constantine Theater” rather than “Constantine Center.”

“My goal is just to help them get up and running,” she said.

The Pawhuska City Council was scheduled last week to discuss a possible lease agreement regarding the operation of the Constantine, but that meeting was postponed. There have been significant changes in recent months to the theater’s governing board, with an increased emphasis on providing greater levels of public programming.