Tennessee Theatre will remain closed through Phase 2

Local Coronavirus Coverage

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – With Knox County set to enter Phase 2 of reopening the economy on Tuesday May 26, several businesses are permitted to reopen their doors for the first time since mid-march including Theaters.

In addition to monitoring the, now standard, six feet social distancing guidelines, as well as increased sanitation theatres, are only permitted to entertain 50 people or fewer at their establishments.

For the Tennessee Theatre that is a mere .03% of its auditorium capacity, which in turn is keeping the Theatre’s doors closed longer. Executive Director Beck Hancock explained for the Theatre to break even on productions it needs to have half to two-thirds of its auditorium filled.

“The artists have expenses, we pay stagehands, we pay ushers, we pay to clean the building,” executive director Becky Hancock explained. “There is no way that we can make the dollars work if we can only allow 50 people in the building.”

While the cost of the throwback films shown occasionally at the theatre is significantly less of a financial burden on the establishment, there is still a large number of staff needed to host those events, again putting the Tennessee Theatre in a hole with limited ticket sales.

Hancock explained the Theatre is still working through a new sanitation plan and budget as well.

“We’re still evaluating what our cleaning and disinfecting procedures will be and what that is going to cost,” she said.

Revenue discrepancy and safety protocols aside, the Tennesse Theatre simply doesn’t have content to show to patrons. Hancock said that all artists or shows that were scheduled through August have either canceled their performances outright or postponed to a later date.

“We have a few events on the books for the end of September,” Hancock cheerfully added. “We hope that those will happen. But we are going to be flexible and if we have to further adjust based on what’s happening in our community then we will.”

In the interim, the Tennessee Theatre will continue to plan for the fourth quarter and into 2021 and 2022 including the broadway slate. Hancock agreed the year of 2021 could shape up to be ‘The Year of Entertainment’ with many events being rescheduled then.

“All of us are so eager to have our audiences back enjoying awesome entertainment on our stages as soon as it is safe to do so,” Hancock said.

While the Tennessee Theatre is not providing entertainment to patrons at the moment due to COVID-19 constrictions, there are still bills that need to be paid to keep the facility running. If you’d like to make a tax-deductible donation to the Tennessee Theatre’s you can do so at the link below: https://www.tennesseetheatre.com/visit/covid19/.

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