Academy Theatre

599 N.Central Ave, Hapeville, GA 30354

Resident Company(ies) Impact Theatre Atlanta; Laughing Matters; Lynna Schmidt Productions
Seats 136

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Academy Theatre (Photographed July 22, 2020)

It was supposed to be a celebratory, re-inaugural year. The Academy Theatre—Atlanta’s oldest professional theatre (56 years)—had just opened its new home on Main St in Hapeville (down the street from the Dwarf House) in a former hardware store in the fall of 2019.

Who knew then that a pandemic and an economic crisis whould give a double whammy and close the house with the season still in production?

The theatre was in technical rehearsals for “The Roommate” by Jen Silverman, scheduled to open March 19, 2020. Directed by Brenda Porter, the play is “A dark comedy about what it takes to re-route your life and what happens when the wheels come off.”

But the wheels came off the week before open and just like all the other houses in town, the Academy Theatre went dark. So far, of the 30 theatres that I have photographed, I’ve counted 15,000 empty seats.

At this point few if any (and only through heroic efforts) are going to be open with anywhere near full capacity houses through at least the first quarter of next year. That’s an entire season of shows lost. Just a back of the envelope calculation puts that at an economic impact in the Atlanta Metro alone of at least $250M (probably more) in lost spending on productions (based on lost income from ticket sales, donations and public philanthropy). That is money not being spent on performers’, stagehands’ and craftspeople’s pay (who then pay rent, buy groceries, etc.), purchases of materials for sets and costumes, concessions, etc. It is an industry with a huge impact.

This actually a low-ball number because it doesn’t include any of the outdoor amphitheaters and several other significant houses I haven’t been able to shoot in yet (including Spelman, Morehouse, Agnes Scott, Emory, GSU, Variety, Terminal West and a number of smaller houses) and some venues are busy nearly every week of the year (roadhouses & music venues) while others are busy about half the weeks each year or less (my estimate biases more towards the lower occupancy). Statewide, the impact could extrapolate out to half a billion dollars or more a year.

Originally posted to Facebook, August 31, 2020