Nonprofit group fights to save historic theater

The Kimball Theatre (Brandi Cummings/WAVY Photos)

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) – Many families spent the Fourth of July in Williamsburg. However, as 10 On Your Side reported last week, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is in financial turmoil. Because of that, there are plans to close the Kimball Theatre in two days.

A local nonprofit group is stepping up, trying to stop that.

The theater has been around for 80 years. It’s a staple in Colonial Williamsburg.

As doors to the Kimball opened for its matinée on Tuesday, customers filed in, uncertain of the future. Neither the excitement of the movie, nor the cool air giving a break from the humid day, or even the smell of popcorn could overshadow the somber mood.

“Very sad to see it closing,” Williamsburg resident Laura Varner said.

“It’s going to be a big loss to the community I think,” Williamsburg resident Tom Mills said.

The Kimball has a long, rich history with film screenings and live music, but over the years, the events held at the theater haven’t been enough to sustain the operation.

Thursday, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation president said the theater lost $782,000 over the past year and it would close this week.

Read: An open letter to the Colonial Williamsburg community

Mills, a longtime patron, has another idea.

“I’m hoping some angels will come down and put up a few bucks and bring it back to life,” he said.

Whether you’d call them angels or not, at least one group is stepping up.

Nonprofit Culturefix President Steve Rose told 10 On Your Side’s Brandi Cummings, “Our board basically very strongly decided that we need to step up and take the lead in basically trying to ensure the future of the theater.”

But the entirety of what that would entail is still unclear.

“We look at it to the future, we don’t look to the past. We look at it how we can operate it, how we could run it, what we could add to the already existing programs,” Rose said.

Rose shared a message Saturday asking the community to support the Kimball and encourage Colonial Williamsburg to work swiftly to minimize damage to the local groups who depend on it.

“There’s a lot of entities, organizations in the town who had programs and events scheduled for the rest of the year. They’re all stressed, borderline freaking out because this is our only facility in the town that can handle a lot of those events,” Rose explained.

Culturefix says Colonial Williamsburg has only said they’ve received the information, but the two haven’t talked about next steps.

A Colonial Williamsburg Foundation spokesperson provided this statement for our story:

We cannot comment on details of pending real estate matters, but we are pleased to have received inquiries from multiple local parties interested in the theater.”

Guests holding tickets for Kimball Theatre events scheduled after July 6 can request refunds by visiting Colonial Williamsburg ticketing locations or by calling 1-800-HISTORY.

Stay with WAVY.com for developments.