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Austin theater auctions off chance to write message on iconic marquee

Austin theater auctions off chance to write message on iconic marquee

Paramount Theatre holiday marquee
The Paramount Theatre is auctioning off the chance to share a holiday message on its marquee. Paramount Theatre/Instagram

Austinites craving the limelight might get the chance to see their name in lights — or at least a personalized holiday message — illuminated on one of Austin’s most historic marquees.

As part of the Austin Theatre Alliance’s final 2020 auction to raise funds for the Paramount and Stateside theaters, the nonprofit is offering up an array of unusual and very “Austintatious” items for bid, including the chance to share a customized holiday message on the iconic Paramount Theatre marquee.

The auction item is one of several dozen currently up for bid through ATA’s online holiday auction, which runs through December 11.

With a starting bid of $1,500, the Paramount marquee message is one of the pricier items in the auction, but it may be well worth the glory, as the winning bidder can treat all of Austin to a two-line, 80-character custom holiday message that will be professionally photographed and live on the marquee for a minimum of four hours. (It should be noted that the chosen message is subject to review. After all, this is a nonprofit theater marquee, not the infamously sassy El Arroyo sign.) 

Having to cancel or reschedule hundreds of planned shows because of COVID-19 concerns, the Paramount Theatre has had a particularly rough year but recently reopened at 25 percent capacity for limited engagements, like its Holiday Film Series, which is currently underway. Funds raised from the auction enable the ATA, which manages the Paramount and Stateside, to reach Central Texas students through virtual programs, employ venue staff, and help the historic theaters survive the pandemic.

In addition to the Paramount marquee message item, the auction also includes other perfectly weird items befitting a homegrown Austin event, like Matt Lankes photos of Willie Nelson playing chess and the late, great Billy Joe Shaver looking contemplative while perched on a bridge in Waco; and several autographed guitars, including one commemorative acoustic guitar signed by 10 of Austin’s most notable musicians, Ruthie Foster, Carrie Rodriguez, and Tameca Jones among them.

Of course, there is no lack of booze-forward packages, hotel stays, and artist-signed prints also up for grabs. But true lovers of the Paramount Theatre will find the item with the highest opening bid ($5,000) steals the show: a private catered dinner for four on the Paramount stage.