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Florida Theatre establishes relief fund to help workers

The Florida Theatre was purchased by the Arts Assembly of Jacksonville in 1981 for $1 million and a $5 million restoration of the dilapidated building began. The Florida Theatre was placed on the National Register of Historic Places the following year.
The Florida Theatre was purchased by the Arts Assembly of Jacksonville in 1981 for $1 million and a $5 million restoration of the dilapidated building began. The Florida Theatre was placed on the National Register of Historic Places the following year. (Photo by Jerry McGovern)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The curtain won’t go up at the historic Florida Theatre until further notice after the theater closed as part of the of the public health response to contain the COVID-19 virus.

“Even though the Theatre has no income at this time, we have committed to keeping all 22 of our full-time employees employed for as long as we can,” said Florida Theatre President Numa Saisselin.

But Saisselin said the part-time show workers were already feeling the effects of the shutdown.

“Because there are no shows, our stagehands, bartenders, security and box office workers have no work,” Saisselin said.

For patrons of the theater, these are the workers who they come into contact with the most at performances.

“The average gross wages for these people at a Florida Theatre show are about $6,000 a night,” said Saisselin, “There are already 24 shows that have canceled or postponed. That’s $144,000 in wages already lost, and in all likelihood, there is more to come.”

Saisselin and the Florida Theatre Board of Directors are asking the public to contribute to a relief fund for the workers. The Florida Theatre administration will use all raised funds to support their employees who need it.

“In a high tech world, the arts and entertainment are still a people business, and we have to look out for each other at this difficult time,” said Saisselin.

The community can donate to the Florida Theatre Show Worker Relief by visiting https://floridatheatre.com/show-worker-relief-fund/.

Anyone who contributes $50 or more will receive a pair of complimentary tickets to a Summer Movie Classics screening (announcing soon) of their choice this summer.

The historic nonprofit Florida Theatre is sponsored by Community First Credit Union. For a complete list of upcoming events or to buy tickets visit the Theatre’s official web site floridatheatre.com.


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