Byrd attracts big names to help restoration

Julie DiNisio

Staff Writer

Wednesday night, Richmonders and movie enthusiasts alike united to preserve a historic landmark.

The VCU Anthropology and Archaeology Club hosted Preserve the Byrd at one of Richmond’s most well-loved landmarks, the Byrd Theatre. As the name would indicate, the event was targeted to raise money for the Byrd, renowned for its $2 movie tickets and weekend movie showings.

Preserve the Byrd featured a variety of speakers including Grant Mudge, Director of the Richmond Shakespeare Company, who spoke on the importance of art and its role in the community. Bryan Green, Historic Architect for Commonwealth Architects, followed by emphasizing historical preservation.

While similar events have been held in the past to raise money, the Byrd Theatre is still struggling. The website states that the necessary repairs will cost roughly 5 million dollars, not a surprising amount considering the building is 81 years old.

“There are a lot of things around the building that need attention,” Todd Schall-Vess, the general manager, said. “We’d like to improve the bathrooms, replace the seats in the auditorium, and replace damaged plaster.”

Though it might appear bleak for the Byrd, many Richmond organizations are involved with the preservation efforts. VCU’s Anthropology and Archaeology Club has held several events at the Byrd.

“We have a pretty well-established history with the theatre,” Alex Stein, the club’s president, said. “We decided that it’s our turn to give back to the theatre because they’ve helped us so much in the past.”

Other attention-grabbing events are also being held at the Byrd: on Dec. 3, the theater will feature actor, director, and author Crispin Hellion Glover, who will perform scenes from eight of his published books while illustrations are displayed on the Byrd’s screen.

There will also be a screening of his newest movie “It is Fine. Everything is Fine!” produced by his company Volcanic Eruptions. Glover is chiefly known by the public for his roles in “Back to the Future” and “Alice in Wonderland.”

The James River Film Society chose Crispin Hellion Glover because of his work “outside or on the margins of the mainstream,” according to Parrish. He also said that JRFS values “films or filmmakers that challenge, inspire, and represent the best of filmmaking as an art form.”

An Evening with Crispin Hellion Glover will be held at 9:30 p.m. and is being hosted by the James River Film Society, a non-profit organization.

“We have a great relationship with the Byrd,” James Parrish, JRFS’s vice president, said. “They are the only independently run movie theatre in Richmond and the one that is mostly closely aligned with our mission to promote and support independent filmmaking and filmmakers in Richmond, Virginia.”

Tickets for this event are $20 and will go on sale at the Byrd right before the event starts. They can also be purchased prior to the show at Chop Suey Books or Video Fan. CT

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