Everett Theatre hopes to improve engagement with community in 2021

Amanda Parrish
Middletown Transcript

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the Everett Theatre to close its doors to live shows in 2020, which are a primary source of revenue. The historic theater has shown movies in a socially distanced and safe way throughout the year, but it couldn’t fully make up for the loss of the live performances.

Lee Edgar, president of Everett Theatre’s Board of Directors, said they rely heavily on the volunteers and financial supporters from the community to help keep the theater running. The pandemic has made them realize they haven't been great at keeping in touch with those who support the theater.

“The pandemic has required us to look at new ways to engage with the Middletown community and the supporters of the Everett. We have more or less recognized, we have not always been good with that,” he said. “We recognize that one of our goals in the short term is improving our communication, finding ways to reach out to the supporters of the effort.”

Lee Edgar, the president of Everett Theatre’s Board of Directors, stands outside the historic theater in Middletown.

Heading in 2021, this goal is more important than ever. The Everett Theatre will receive a $75,000 match grant from the Welfare Foundation for updates and improvements to the building. This means for every dollar the theatre raises, the foundation will match it dollar for dollar up to $75,000.

So a resolution in 2021 is to capitalize on this grant, Edgar said.

He said they want to use the grant to preserve and update the theater and The GIbby Center for the Arts building, including new floors, a new ceiling, a new bathroom and other needed repairs to the structure.

This all comes at a perfect time as the Everett — built in 1922 — prepares to celebrate its 100th birthday.

“We are all here because of the building. It's a cinema, it's the performing and visual arts … The whole program is here because of the historic building,” he said.

One of the board’s biggest hopes for 2021 is getting performers back on the stage, Edgar said, but that will primarily be determined by the state of the pandemic.