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Giving the Byrd

In wake of robbery, fundraising efforts bolster Byrd Theater.



In the wake of a July 25 robbery of the Byrd Theater's donation box, there's been a flood of online and mailed gifts totaling more than $3,000, says Todd Schall-Vess, the Byrd's general manager.

A July 26 report by the Richmond Times-Dispatch revealed the nonprofit theater foundation was in dire financial straits, suffering from a drop in donations, inability to pay anything but interest on a $1.2 million loan for the building's 30-year mortgage and its need for upwards of $1 million to renovate seats and bathrooms.

On top of all this, the robbery of the scantily patronized donation box did about $1,200 in damage to building doors, the Times-Dispatch reported.

Schall-Vess says support has rallied in the wake of the robbery.

“We had a private foundation step in and cover the entire cost of the repairs to the doors,” he says. “We've had more online donations in the last week than we've gotten in the last year and a half.”

The Carytown Merchants' Association and Area 10 Faith Community, the church that holds services in the theater, have also committed to fundraising support.

When the folks at Monument Avenue-based creative services firm JHI heard the Byrd was suffering, they put their graphically inclined heads together and designed pro bono an art deco t-shirt to help raise money for the ailing foundation.

“We've had sponsors step up to the plate and 100 percent of the proceeds will benefit the Byrd,” says Jo Watson, co-owner of JHI. A press release issued by Watson also identifies Target Marketing as a sponsor.

The shirts, which say “Give Richmond the Byrd” and market for $15 a pop, will sell this Sunday during the Carytown Watermelon Festival and may also be purchased by contacting JHI.

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