Arcadia Project to host street party celebrating milestone

Published: Nov. 4, 2021 at 7:58 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

STAUNTON, Va. (WVIR) - The Arcadia Project in downtown Staunton is hosting a street party Saturday, November 6, in front of the old Dixie Theater.

There’s going to be live entertainment and a chance to look inside the historic theater, but it’s really a celebration of progress.

The Arcadia Project is wrapping up the first phase of its effort to breathe new life into the old Dixie Theater which closed in 2014.

Phase one was $230,000 worth of work to replace the roof, asbestos abatement, and façade improvements. Seven tons of trash were carried out by volunteers and taken to the landfill.

The Arcadia Project, which is an all-volunteer organization, is kicking off phase two which focuses on renovating the lobby and restrooms.

Phase three will put a movie theater on one side of the building and a black box theater on the other side.

Despite a pandemic, and the constant challenge of fundraising, the Arcadia Project never stopped pushing forward. Now the people behind it are celebrating a win.

Abena Foreman Trice is the vice president of the Arcadia Project board. “Where we’ve reached, it’s just the culmination of every moving paint brush, every seat, row of seating removed, all of the tremendous work, the heavy lifting done by volunteers,” she said. “It’s just really amazing to be at this point.”

Foreman Trice says the Arcadia Project will continue to find ways of giving people a taste of what’s to come inside the theater.

The street party is Saturday, November 6 starting at 2 p.m. More information about the Arcadia Project is available on their website.


(STAUNTON, VA) November 2, 2021—After two years of work, members of the Arcadia Project are ready to show off their progress in reinventing the historic Beverley Street theater space formerly called the Dixie Theater. The group will stage a street party and open house for the public during which visitors in small groups can safely tour parts of the building. Special musical guests include the soul, blues/rock, and jazz band Johnny’s Blue Locomotive; the Mary Baldwin University Band and drumline; hip hop artist Chance Crawford aka Austin Fox.

The event takes place Saturday, November 6 beginning at 2 p.m. (rain date November 7, 2 p.m.)

“This effort represents the culmination of long-time community support and patience,” says Pamela Mason Wagner, executive director for the Arcadia Project. “Every dollar donated, and every minute spent volunteering, has gotten us significantly closer to the first phase of our opening and being able to gather again.”

Since 2019, the group has received $230,000 in grants, donations and in-kind services that have made possible asbestos abatement, and the replacement of the former Dixie Theater’s roof. Volunteers provided thousands of hours to repair and beautify the building’s façade and remove old seating, fixtures and debris from the building.

In a unique partnership with the Maker Space, the marquee will be rewired and modernized with energy-efficient LED lighting.

Several local artists have created sculptures and mosaics in homage to the building, which will be unveiled at the street party.

During the open house, the public will get to see for the first time since 1980 what remains of the 1936 Art Moderne interior. Also on display are exciting new building schematics that acknowledge the theater’s history along with new features that will modernize the space. Small groups participating in tours are asked to wear masks while inside the premises. Vaccinations are preferred.

Note: Reporters interested in covering this open house are asked to come at 2 p.m. to capture a brief presentation happening near the top of the hour. For more information, contact Abena Foreman-Trice at 540-324-9407.

About The Arcadia Project

The Arcadia Project is governed by a working volunteer board advancing the renovation and reopening of the historic, former Dixie Theater in downtown Staunton. Established in 2019, The Arcadia Project has convened more than 70 volunteers who donated 1,560 hours of labor, won multiple grants totaling $80,000 and completed four major building improvement projects aided by contributions from over 60 new donors. In addition, The Arcadia Project brought more than a dozen COVID-safe, live performances and virtual performances to the Staunton community through its Artists Interrupted series. An independent market study has positively identified the revenue potential and soundness of the historic theater. With this validation in hand, the Arcadia Project will continue to “make community happen” through the eventual opening of a space in downtown Staunton where all visitors can Bring Who They Are! Visit

Copyright 2021 WVIR. All rights reserved.