Historic Birmingham Theaters Launch GoFundMe Campaign for Survival

The Lyric Theatre and Alabama Theatre are across the street from each other on Third Avenue North in Birmingham.

The parent company of two of Birmingham’s historic theaters, the Alabama Theatre and Lyric Theatre, has launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise $500,000 to make up for lost revenue during the COVID-19 crisis.

“Before the pandemic caused the event industry to shut down, we were looking forward to one of our busiest years ever,” said Cindy Mullins, venue manager for Birmingham Landmarks Inc. “We project that we will have lost $2.5 million in revenue by the end of the year.”

Even though the theaters are closed to the public, they have averaged $85,000 in expenses each month since March, including $35,000 monthly for overhead costs such as utilities.

“These delicate, historic structures require constant care and maintenance,” said Brant Beene, executive director of Birmingham Landmarks. “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 theaters would be all for nothing.”

During the pandemic, both the Alabama, built in 1927, and Lyric, built in 1913, have been presenting Facebook Live concerts. The theaters are also available for rental for small in-person events and livestreams.

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The first public event since the theaters closed will take place Friday at 7 p.m. at the Alabama Theatre. The movie “Steel Magnolias” will be screened, with 630 tickets available for the theater with a capacity of more than 2,100.

“We are truly exploring every avenue we can,” Mullins said. “We’re not just sitting around hoping for someone to come to the rescue. However, we need the $500,000 GoFundMe campaign to make sure we can survive until events are booking at full scale again and the pandemic is over.”

As of Thursday morning, the GoFundMe campaign had raised nearly $25,000.

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