HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — After a two-month shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a downtown Harrisonburg theater will have to close its doors for at least a year.
A seat in Harrisonburg's Court Square Theater
Back on March 16, the Court Square Theater in Harrisonburg announced they were temporarily suspending all films and events as arts organizations throughout the area announced similar closures.
Not long afterward, executive orders from the governor ordered theaters to close as non-essential services.
Court Square Theater refunded all purchased tickets for cancelled events and said all tickets for postponed events would be exchanged for a new date when they could reopen.
But now, more than two months later, as the pandemic continues, the Arts Council of the Valley has announced in a statement that all Court Square Theater operations are being suspended for at least a year, effective July 1.
They let customers known in an email on Wednesday and plan to send a full statement later this week.
According to the Arts Council of the Valley, they were notified in mid-April that the budget proposed for the city of Harrisonburg for fiscal year 2021 would not include the usual annual allocation for Court Square Theater operations, among other budget cuts to make up for revenue losses from the pandemic.
Annual funding Arts Council of the Valley said added up to $50,000 a year.
The Arts Council of the Valley says the loss of that funding, combined with "the complex health-related and economic challenges of operating an entertainment venue under the uncertain circumstances imposed by the COVID-19 crisis" led them to decide to shut down the theater for the time-being.
“Court Square Theater has played a significant role in the vibrancy of downtown Harrisonburg for more than 20 years,” said ACV Board President Jennifer Whitmore. “We recognize that this decision to close for the time being will be difficult for the many patrons who have attended films, concerts, and live theater productions in that historic space.”
For now, the council has formed a task force to determine how they can continue to support and encourage a future for performing arts in the area.
“The Arts Council of the Valley is committed to supporting the performing arts,” ACV Executive Director Jenny Burden added, “and we will be evaluating how to best provide live entertainment for our community, going forward.”
The Court Square Theater building is owned and managed by the Harrisonburg Redevelopment and Housing Authority, which will continue to maintain the theater portion of the facility during the closure.
The closure of the theater will not affect other ACV programming, including the Advancing the Arts Grants, Any Given Child Shenandoah Valley, First Fridays Downtown, and Smith House Galleries.
"Thank you for being such an enthusiastic audience over the years. Our dream is to meet again in the historic Court Square Theater space to share more life-enriching experiences together," a statement on behalf of the theater reads.
Any updates on the theater's status will be posted to the Valley Arts website.
If you bought Court Square Theater gift cards since March 1, you can request a refund by emailing email@example.com by June 1.
However, if you want your purchase to be used as a donation by the council, you can just take no action.