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Be a Light: Paramount Theater launches campaign to keep its door open

be a light paramountThe Paramount Theater has launched a community campaign asking locals to “Be A Light” for the historic, nonprofit venue, which has suffered devastating losses due to the COVID-19 public health crisis.

Paramount board members and staff will be outside of The Paramount, under the historic marquee, from noon-2 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. daily distributing individually packaged free popcorn and selling $10 Be A Light buttons, with all proceeds benefitting The Paramount’s COVID-19 Relief Fund.

Since its opening in 1931, The Paramount has served as an icon for Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall. The loss of events since mid-March has meant significant financial devastation to the historic theater.

While the doors of the theater have reopened for the community, limits on event capacity for the safety of all patrons, volunteers, and staff has meant that operations can no longer support the theater’s drastically reduced budget.

Philanthropic support has kept the doors open since March. The Paramount has experienced a 96 percent decrease in event revenue in the past eight months. Last year at this time, the theater had earned just under $850,000 in gross event revenue. Today it sits at a total of $33,000 event revenue.

Truly, without donor support, The Paramount Theater’s doors could not remain open through or after this public health crisis.

“We know that it will take a village to help guide our crown jewel through the devastating financial effects of the COVID-19 health crisis. We are now looking at our village to help us keep the doors open and continue to welcome in limited patrons for events. By purchasing and wearing a Be a Light button, we encourage you to share your Paramount memories with families and friends, and support the nonprofit Theater at whatever level you can, until we are once again able to welcome showstopping acts to our stage,” said Chris Eure, executive director for The Paramount Theater.

How you can help

  • Be A Light Button Campaign! Through the purchase of a $10 Be a Light button, with all proceeds benefitting The Paramount Theater’s COVID-19 Relief Campaign. Buttons can be purchased at the Theater, online at, or at a Community Campaign Partner location (Alakazam Toys, Beer Run, Citizen Bowl Shop, Citizen Burger, HotCakes, Hot Yoga, Java Java Café, Kardinal Hall, Lampo Neapolitan Pizzeria, MarieBette Café and Bakery + Petite MarieBette, New Dominion Bookshop, The Fitzroy, and Zocalo.) Businesses interested in participating can contact Emma Rhodes at to enroll. In addition, the button will be the “ticket” to a community celebration on Sunday, Jan. 24.
  • Make an Impact! To learn about additional giving opportunities, contact Chris Faulkner, Major Gifts Officer,, 434-293-1009.

A vision

Since The Paramount’s reopening in 2004, the theater marked a resurgence in downtown traffic and served as a springboard for bringing businesses back to the downtown area with the Theater as its anchor.

Now, 16 years later, The Paramount needs the community’s support to ensure the Marquee and Blade shine brightly long into the future.

The theater is an iconic destination on the Downtown Mall, a showcase for the performing arts, and a gathering place for Charlottesville and the region.

When we come through the COVID-19 crisis, we want the Theater to continue to be a part of the story for the community.