The Byrd Theatre hires first ever Executive Director

Closure due to COVID-19 isn’t stopping the Byrd Theatre from continuing to focus on the strategic plan and its long-term future. When closure happened in Mid-March, the Byrd Theatre Foundation was already well into a national search for the first Executive Director to lead the non-profit theatre as part of the Phase 2 Strategic Plan. Thanks to the more than $1,100,000 raised in early lead gifts toward a second phase of the Strategic Plan, funds have been earmarked for both capital improvements and restorations as well as opportunity funds to finance this leadership position at the theatre. 

Stacy Shaw, the new Executive Director, as of July 1, 2020, comes to the Byrd Theatre with 30 years experience as an arts administrator having worked for 2 other historic theaters in her past, The Wells Theatre in Norfolk, Va and The National Theatre in DC. She spent the last 6 years at The National Theatre as the Director of Institutional Advancement establishing corporate, capital, endowment, and major donor campaigns while expanding foundation and government support. She lives in Petersburg, VA with her wife who teaches at Virginia State University. 

“We are so thrilled to have someone with Stacy’s experience and expertise join the Byrd as its first Executive Director. We are confident in her ability to lead the organization through the current times and into a successful future.” Said, Ted Haynes, Byrd Theatre Foundation President. Stacy has already started to engage at the theatre on a volunteer basis. 

“In my experience Stacy Shaw is a talented arts administrator who brings an amazing amount of knowledge, passion, and heart to everything she undertakes.  I have no doubt that she will bring that same energy to the Byrd Theatre and its mission.“ Sarah Chaplin, former Executive Director of The National Theatre and current President and CEO of The State Theatre of New Jersey.

While the Governor’s Phase 3 opening date is July 1st, the Byrd Theatre will remain closed for now. Shaw has worked with the Board of Directors to make the decision to remain closed and focus internally on updating cleaning and seating protocols to meet COVID-19 standards. The Theatre is hopeful a late summer soft opening could occur. This is a difficult financial decision, continued closure means operating funds are slim, but the increased cost to open and operate the theatre under the COVID-19 standards make the margins challenging. The Theatre was fortunate to get a PPP loan early on that allowed the Theatre to continue paying the primarily part-time staff until mid-June when the funds ran out. 

Stacy Shaw said, “We have already reached out to our wonderful patrons for their input to make sure they feel confident about their attendance at the Byrd as well as following updates on cleaning protocols. We are particularly fortunate that the Byrd has a large seating area that social distancing is easily accomplished when compared to the movie theatres of today. Meanwhile, we are utilizing this time to do as much cleaning, updating, and capital improvements as possible. One of the most exciting projects has been the completion of a total renovation of the Wurlitzer Piano in the upper left balcony!”

There are capital funds earmarked for Phase Two capital improvements that will begin to happen late summer and into 2021. 

Planned Phase Two Capital Improvements include, but not limited to:

Renovation of the women’s restroom and addition of an ADA stall

Concession area improvements 

Replacement of the carpet and expansion of the seat replacements

A range of replacements of various systems:  lighting, mechanicals, PA system

Replacement of rear doors

A range of front of stage improvements

Further care of the Wurlitzer Organ 

Stacy Shaw said, “I am excited to be part of the organization and to be joining at such a pivotal moment in time.” With Phase Two fundraising underway, Shaw also said, “We are excited about the next multi-year phase of restoration and growth. The Foundation will be expanding its philanthropic efforts to meet the estimated goal of $2.4 million and to offer donors a range of unique naming and commemorative options.”

Phase One projects replaced the roof as well as heating and cooling systems; installed a digital server and state-of-the-art 4K projector; organ repairs; restored historic plasterwork and center seats; and created a wheelchair accessible seating area and ADA family restroom.  A start-up office operation was created and a development program begun.

While closed, the Byrd Theatre is not bringing in operating funds, therefore, the theatre is actively looking for creative ways to bring film out into the community. Look for the Byrd Theatre to partner with different organizations and spaces for drive-in and other movie night type events throughout the summer and fall. The Virtual Screening Room will remain up and active as well, bringing new films not able to be seen on the big screen to your living room. Renting a film from the Byrd Theatre Virtual Screening Room supports the theatre while you enjoy a film!