Two of the area’s leading theaters have announced that they will be merging. What economic impact will they have, and just how important are these theater companies to Central Virginia?
Two of Richmond’s premiere theaters are joining together. Barksdale Theatre and Theatre IV will merge on July 1st to form Virginia Repertory Theatre. The two theaters had operated in tandem, yet distinctly, for the last several years. The creation of Virginia Repertory Theatre will formally merge them.
“We are thrilled to finally bring our two theaters together,” said Phil Whiteway, managing director for the two theatre companies. “The merger reflects the real impact that our organizations make on the Central Virginia community and creates a more efficient and sustainable nonprofit structure, eliminating duplication and positioning us for national funding.”
The consolidation of the two theaters will bring with it a joint $5 million operating budget, four venues that host over 450 combined annual performances, and 550,000 in annual attendance. Not only will it become the largest professional theater in Central Virginia, but also one of the largest performing arts organizations in the region along with the Richmond Ballet, Richmond Symphony, and the Virginia Opera.
“Our new single identity with a common website and messaging better serves all our constituents and establishes a clear continuum of programming for children, families, schools and adults,” said Whiteway.
Barksdale Theater was founded in 1953 by six actors from New York. It was Central Virginia’s first professional performing arts organization, and the nation’s first dinner theater. Theatre IV was founded in 1975, becoming the first professional children’s theater in the state.
Virginia Repertory Theatre will employ 47 full-time employees, along with over 400 part-time and contracted actors, teaching artists, administrative personnel, and production staff. According to a 2008 calculation by Virginians for the Arts, the combined economic impact exceeds $23 million, the largest of any independent arts organization in Central Virginia.