Fundraiser started to save financially strapped Alabama and Lyric theatres
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Update: The Alabama and Lyric theatres are making efforts to raise money after suffering financial loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The theater held a benefit concert Sunday night featuring artist Drew Holcomb to raise money for both the Alabama and Lyric theatres.
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Original Story: Wednesday, Birmingham Landmarks, Inc., the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the Alabama Theatre and Lyric Theatre started a fundraiser to come up with $500,000 to keep the Birmingham landmarks in operation through the end of the year.
Venue manager Cindy Mullins said they’ve gone to extreme measures to save money.
“We went around and unplugged everything we could. We have paused any subscriptions that we could; so, our point of sale system at the bar, our clearing crew, our trash pick-ups, and ice makers, we’ve paused those subscriptions to try to save money,” Mullins said.
The historical sites were both hit hard in 2020. They were forced to close mid-March due to the pandemic, and in May the buildings sustained significant damage to the exterior during a riot that struck up after what started as a peaceful protest against social injustice.
The inability to host concerts, movies and other events, that draw thousands of visitors every year, cost the theatres millions of dollars in revenue.
“Before the pandemic caused the event industry to shut down, we were looking forward to one of our busiest years ever. We project that we will have lost $2.5 million in revenue by the end of the year,” said Mullins.
Even though the theatres are closed to the public their monthly expenses are high. The Alabama and Lyric have averaged $85,000 in expenses each month since March, with about $35,000 monthly covering just basic overhead costs like utilities and insurance, according to a press release.
Brant Beene, executive director of Birmingham Landmarks, Inc., says that many people ask why the theatres can’t be boarded up to cut costs until the pandemic ends.
“These delicate, historic structures require constant care and maintenance. If we turned off the power the heat and humidity would cause the paint to peel off the walls. The plaster would crack. The seats, carpet and velvet curtains would mildew. Years of hard work to restore and care for these theatres would be all for nothing. It’s just not an option,” he said.
The theatres cannot be insured if the buildings are considered unoccupied, and if coverage is lost it may be impossible to regain.
The theatres have made other efforts to raise money during the pandemic by presenting online concerts streamed on Facebook Live. Their efforts will continue Friday, Sept. 11. The Alabama Theatre will present a socially distanced viewing of the movie Steel Magnolias. It will be the first public event since its spring closure.
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