Performing arts venue in Bristol making a comeback following pandemic, celebrating 90th year in business


BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL) – With the region continuing to reopen, performing art venues, such as the Paramount Theater in Bristol are following suit as well and preparing for a busy season.

However, for the Paramount Theater, this isn’t just a return following the pandemic, it’s a celebration of its 90th year serving the community.

According to Jennifer Hayes, the interim executive director of the Paramount Theater, it was opened in February of 1931 as a Paramount Pictures movie house, focused on showing new feature films.

After quickly making a name for itself on State Street, the shows expanded to live performances of productions and concerts.

This fall, in honor of its 90th year, big names in music will be playing the Paramount. “We have the biggest season yet and we are adding shows almost on a weekly basis so we hope to between the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022, have more shows than we’ve ever had,” said Hayes.

Hayes said it’s a shame they had to shut down when they did because they were on track to have a record season, with projected numbers showing the potential for the busiest season yet.

However, like many other businesses, operations were forced to a halt in March of 2020. The last performance was a Beatles tribute show and there hasn’t been a show since.

Like many, Hayes said they were worried they would not open back up, but fortunately, donors kept the theater alive long enough to celebrate that 90-year milestone.

Local businesses are thrilled the theater is making a comeback.

“We’ve been shut down for so long and it’s just a welcome sight to see visitors back in Downtown Bristol again. We have a full spectrum of daytime activities and nightlife for the visitors when they do come and see the stages of the performing art here and that is the Paramount Effect because there is a ripple effect off of everything that’s going on,” said the owner of Cranberry Lane & Southern Churn, Karen Hester.

Hayes said everyone in Downtown Bristol works together to thrive as a Downtown and they all have the same goal of bringing people into these local shops and stops.

“I think there’s a camaraderie, especially here in Downtown Bristol where we all want to work together, we all want to see each other succeed, and I think that’s really important because working together is what’s going to help us get there,” said Hayes.

Opening day for the Paramount is set for July 19th. Shows have already been announced online with tickets for a majority of these events already being sold. Hayes said future events are also planned.

To see the current line up, click here.

The Cameo Theater on the Virginia side of State Street is also set to open soon following full renovations during the pandemic.

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