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Timeline: Byrd Theatre begins replacing historic seating, announces major accessibility upgrades

The tedious process to replace the historic movie palace’s almost 90-year-old seats will take approximately 12 weeks and result in much-needed accessibility improvements, too.

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At long last, the Byrd Theatre is beginning the process to replace the Carytown movie palace’s worn out seating. After announcing plans to raise admission prices last December–raising prices for the first time in recent years from $1.99 to $4–the theatre’s foundation has begun the replacement process, taking out a portion of the center section.

The entire process will take approximately 12 weeks, and replacement will be done in waves.

“If you have seen a film at the Byrd over the last couple weeks, it won’t go unnoticed seats are missing,” said Grant Mizell, Vice President of the Byrd Theatre Foundation. “Our seat fabrication specialists have removed the historical, decorative row endcaps for restoration and refitting to brand new seats.”

On July 21st, the Byrd’s balcony will be open to accommodate customers as the final section of ground floor seating is removed and extensive floor preparations begin to allow for the new seating configuration.

“To increase legroom by spacing rows further apart, it requires ‘moving’ our floor vents–meaning filling and drilling about 80 holes in the concrete slab,” he said.

The resulting configuration will result in more space and comfort (with slightly less overall capacity), while retaining the look of the almost 90-year-old original seats, as the Byrd Theatre Foundation noted in a blog post:

Theaters in the 1920s were designed to maximize seating to meet tremendous demand. Our original seats have become extremely cramped by today’s standards. As our many patrons are well aware they are also in poor condition after nearly 90 years of daily use. Seating capacity at the Byrd Theatre is currently about 916 of the first floor and about 462 in the balcony for a total of about 1,378. The result, given current demand for conventional film showings is that the theater often feels empty even when accommodating an audience that meets the expectations of the theater management.

Mizell says some of the seats that are still in good condition will be used to replace other areas of the theatre, but many of the old seating will be sold off to those interested in owning a piece of Richmond history. Those interested can fill out an interest form here.

The project will also see upgrades that will make the historic theatre much more accessible to those with disabilities. Several sections of seating were removed towards the rear of the theatre to allow for new ADA-compliant, accessible seating, and a new handicap-accessible restroom is being added, too.

The entire project is expected to wrap up in early September.

While the floor seats are removed, the Byrd will host a pop-up event in coordination with local event organizers The Underground Kitchen and a yet-to-be-named local chef on July 25th, The Roaring Twenties Gala, taking advantage of the otherwise unavailable open space.

The seating and restroom upgrades cap off a decade of fundraising and improvements that saw the replacement of the theatre’s roof, its heating and cooling units, and installation of a new digital projection system–investments that totaled over $1 million. The current project, however, is separate from these efforts from a fundraising and strategic standpoint.

“As we published in December, we’ve moved to a more piecemeal approach to restoration,” Mizell said in a text message to RVAHub. “That shift has enabled us to more swiftly approach seating and accessibility, directly after the installation of point-of-sale in December.

He added that the theatre’s Restoration Committee is working on a phased, year-to-year approach that will focus attention on patron accommodations and business needs over beautification and ornamental finishes. The plan has yet to be finalized.

The Byrd Theatre has announced a full roster of upcoming screenings and special performances to take place during construction. Check out the full lineup here.

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Trevor Dickerson is the co-founder and editor of RVAhub.com, lover of all things Richmond, and a master of karate and friendship for everyone.

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Arts & Entertainment

Plow Through Your Holiday Shopping at Holiday Villages a Virtual Market

Let’s spread some holiday cheer and support Richmond’s small business and artist community at a new VIRTUAL Holiday Villages!

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Saturday, December 5th and Sunday, December 6th from 4pm-8pm you’ll be able to shop a bunch of local vendors. Everything from ice cream to tee shirts. Head over to Facebook to see all the vendors profiled. Normally the Richmond Night Market welcomes you in person but these are not normal times.  You can register to check it out online here. It’s a great way to support local businesses and stay safe.
  • Live Music
  • Artisans
  • Small Businesses
  • Local Vendors
  • And MORE!
Grab your family, friends, loved ones, and curl up on the sofa to shop and hang with us!
Finish all your holiday shopping the first weekend of December!
You don’t want to miss this!
Presented by the Richmond Night Market, in partnership with The City of Richmond, Brok Productions, and The Economic Development Authority of Richmond.
Let’s spread some holiday cheer and support Richmond’s small business and artist community at our new VIRTUAL Holiday Villages!
HELP US SPREAD THE WORD- Share this post with your followers and family and friends!

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New VMFA exhibition portrays the majestic beauty of Virginia’s Natural Bridge

The exhibition, free to visitors, will be on view at VMFA from February 6 to August 1, 2021.

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The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) has announced its upcoming exhibition, Virginia Arcadia: The Natural Bridge in American Art, an exploration of the artistic portrayal of this spectacular and seemingly miraculous natural landmark. The exhibition, free to visitors, will be on view at VMFA from February 6 to August 1, 2021.

The majesty of the Shenandoah Valley’s Natural Bridge, a 400-year-old geological formation, has inspired artists, writers and explorers over the centuries. It has served as an ethereal example of the American landscape, an icon of natural history and a witness to human civilization. One of the most depicted sites in American 19th-century landscape painting, this formation captured the imaginations of artists like Frederic Church, David Johnson, Edward Hicks and Caleb Boyle, as well as many decorative artists.

“VMFA is pleased to recognize Virginia’s very own natural landmark through this exhibition,” said VMFA Director and CEO Alex Nyerges. “We hope Virginia Arcadia inspires appreciation for and interest in rediscovering the wonderful natural world here in our state, and also recognizing that the environment is a precious source of inspiration.”

“Consider a time when our very landscape sparked wonder and inspired myth,” said the exhibition’s curator, Dr. Christopher C. Oliver, VMFA’s Assistant Curator of American Art. “Artists were moved to not only capture its picturesque splendor and breathtaking sense of place, but also all that the Natural Bridge represented and idealized — the sublime divinity of the natural world, the excitement of discovery, the harmony between nature and civilization and the abundance of pastoral beauty.” The Natural Bridge is also historically relevant to western expansion, slavery, natural history, tourism and ecological conservation.

Virginia Arcadia examines the Natural Bridge through more than 60 paintings, prints, decorative art objects and photographs made between the late 1700s and the early 1900s. Highlights of the exhibition include works from VMFA’s collection including one of the earliest illustrations of the Natural Bridge, an engraving from 1787 by Baron De Turpin, a French engineer sent to document the site, one of three such engravings featured in Volume 1: Travels In North-America in the Years 1780, 1781 and 1782. Joshua Shaw’s oil painting Natural Bridge No. 1 (ca. 1820) captures the view from atop the arch of the bridge looking down into a nearby creek in Rockbridge County, Virginia. Several works in the exhibition are on loan from institutions across the country including the Chrysler Museum, the Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia, the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Virginia Museum of History and Culture, and the Yale University Art Gallery, as well as from private collections.

More information about Virginia Arcadia: The Natural Bridge in American Art can be found on the museum’s website.

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Photos: Preview of Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter

November 23rd is when you can check out the lights at Lewis Ginter but last night we were lucky enough to get a sneak peek.

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Full details on Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights can be found here or on the Lewis Ginter website.

 

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