Between the pandemic and a theater restoration project, the doors of the Florida Theater have remained closed for more than seven months. Today the historic theater, a non-profit, announced an aggressive fundraising campaign to ensure the show will go on.
The iconic downtown landmark first opened in 1927. At the time, there were six theaters in a four-block area. “The Florida Theater is the only one standing,” said Numa Saisselin, theater president, who added, “People recognize it’s important in our history as well as a totally cool place to go.”
The last concert was held on March 12. In August, amid the shutdown, management decided to take a chance and escalate next year’s planned renovation. “We called vendors and said if we press go button can you do the work, and we heard a resounding yes,” said Saisselin.
Using the shutdown to complete a fully funded project to install new seating, lighting and increase handicap accessibility, the Florida Theater bought some time. But time and money have run out.
Saisselin tells Action News Jax, “Our emergency funds ran out the end of this month and it leaves us another month gap to fill until we’re open and generating income again.”
The theater’s “Crossing the Finish Line” campaign goal is to raise $100,000 by December 31.
The money will keep the doors up and pay the staff until it’s open and generating not only revenue, but a renewed community passion for theater.
“My hope is when the pandemic is over, it reminds us what we missed. And that that brings arts and culture a little closure in a civic life,” said Saisselin.
The first concert is planned for December 10, and 38 Special will perform. Country star Travis Tritt performs December 13.
As part of its COVID-19 protocol, concerts will run at half capacity. Guests will have temperature checks and must wear a mask during the performance.
For ticket information and to donate to the “Across the Finish Line Campaign,” go to FloridaTheater.com
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