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As funding runs out, Florida Theatre launches campaign to reopen in December

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Florida Theatre, which had to close in early March because of the pandemic, has launched a “Cross the Finish Line” campaign to help the historic theater reopen in December.

The Florida Theatre is expected to announce its plans for reopening and new events on Monday.

“We lost more than 100 performances, that’s 90% of our business right there that has been gone,” said Numa Saisselin, president of the Florida Theatre.

Saisselin said the theater has been relying on several relief loans to make ends meet, including a PPP loan, a city of Jacksonville/Vystar Credit Union Business Community Relief loan and a CARES Act grant from the government and the city of Jacksonville. However, he said, the funding is running out.

“At the end of this month, we’re going to exhaust our cash resources,” Saisselin said. “We planned to lay off people at that point, but now that we are opening, we can’t do that because you need people to run a show and you need a functioning theater.”

As a result, the theatre launched the campaign to raise $100,000 to help it reopen in December with limited seating and safety measures in place. The theater’s Board of Directors created a matching fund so every dollar donated through the end of the year will be matched dollar for dollar.

The Florida Theatre opened to great fanfare in 1927 as a grand movie palace that also offered live entertainment.
The Florida Theatre opened to great fanfare in 1927 as a grand movie palace that also offered live entertainment. (Florida Theatre archives)

The Florida Theatre has been an entertainment center in Jacksonville since 1927.

“I think about all the crisis that the building has seen in its lifetime and it’s still here, so I’m confident that we are going to get through this, however long it takes," Saisselin said. “Get back to business and have people enjoying the Florida Theatre.”

If you wish to donate to the campaign, click here.


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