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Buchanan Theatre pushes on through the pandemic

Published: Jan. 14, 2021 at 5:49 PM EST
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BUCHANAN, Va. (WDBJ) - The Buchanan Theatre--a staple of downtown Buchanan--has been finding ways to push through this pandemic.

Staffers say it hasn’t been easy, but they’re surviving.

The Buchanan Theatre is entirely volunteer-run and is owned by a nonprofit.

Harry Gleason, the Buchanan Community Development Planner and a volunteer at the theatre, says the volunteer aspect has greatly helped the theatre stay financially stable throughout the pandemic.

“The numbers for attendance are way, way down, and what makes the Buchanan Theatre survive is the fact that it’s a volunteer-run organization, so the budget is very streamlined,” Gleason said.

But he says low attendance still has made it harder to pay for utilities, electricity, heat, and other costs, so he’s hoping this theatre can fill up again soon. It closed down at the beginning of the pandemic and eventually reopened with new policies in place.

“We’re operating at, I believe, at 25%, which is even below what is recommended because we wanted to be very cautious. And the other issue is the studios releasing movies, which is not happening,” Gleason explained.

Instead, the theatre’s Board of Directors has been playing classics and movies for kids. Also, the board taped off certain seats to make distancing easier, the ticketing booth is now hands-free, and volunteers now take food and drinks to the customers.

“The town has been tested many, many times . . . so people pull together when there is a crisis and that’s what really carries the whole town through,” Gleason said.

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