Local online fundraising startup aims to spur Byrd Theatre renovations

Live To Serve launched last Friday with an ambitious $50,000 Byrd Theatre renovation campaign

Last Friday, local startup Live To Serve publicly opened its crowdfunding platform to Richmond residents, and its first philanthropic effort is to help restore the historic Byrd Theatre in Carytown.

The Byrd Theatre’s “Journey to the Seats” campaign is one of the first projects featured on the site, and one of the most aggressive to date. The Byrd Theatre Foundation seeks to raise $50,000 through the site to supplement other fundraising efforts and benefits being held in the next several months.

Live To Serve allows site visitors to pick a cause to support, and then presents a number of Groupon-style vouchers, such as a restaurant gift certificate or tickets to a comedy show. Unlike traditional deal sites, the vouchers are full price, with 50% or more going to support the selected cause.

The Foundation is in the final stages of replacing the chiller unit within the theatre’s air conditioning system, a $205,000 project. The next planned project for the theatre will be replacement of the 1928 blade sign, followed by full restoration of the 1937 marquee, ‘in all their neon glory.’

Future projects include box office and concession updates, an exterior restoration, ornamental finishes, electrical rewiring, bathroom renovations, organ repair and of course, new seats.

“It’s our intent to give patrons and supporters, the broadest range of ways they can support the foundation, and the theatre’s restoration,” said Grant Mizell, Vice President for the Foundation. “We’re uber-conscious of donor fatigue. So from a marketing perspective, that translates to providing lots of alternative options for fundraising.”

The Byrd Theatre Foundation estimates about $5 million will be needed to complete the necessary projects and pay the final balance of the building. Since 2012, the Foundation has raised more than $1.5 million through grants, individual donations and several fundraising events.

The Live to Serve campaign will run for 60 days. To view the campaign and donate, click here.

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Trevor Dickerson

Trevor Dickerson loves all things Richmond and manages RVANews’ West of the Boulevard and West End community sites.

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