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Historic theater works to reopen after year of pandemic, damaging flooding

Swift Creek Mill Theatre
Posted at 4:31 PM, Jun 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-17 17:25:34-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- First, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the Swift Creek Mill Theatre. Amid the ongoing pandemic, a massive flood severely damaged the historic building.

And now as music venues start to reopen to a full audience, the theater will remain closed for the time being.

“The sign is very much the truth, we miss our patrons, we can't wait to have them back," said Steven Koehler, the Managing Director at Swift Creek Mill Theatre.

Koehler referring to the sign on Route One which reads "We Miss You".

The black cloud that has hung over the mill is now replaced by the sun shining down on Swift Creek Mill Theatre.

“We’re in the final little bit of polishing everything up and finishing repairs from the flood work," said Koehler.

While many businesses were hurt financially by the pandemic, for the theatre, it was a double whammy.

“Between the pandemic and the flood and some others, it’s been a year," said Koehler.

The August 2020 flood saw the theater's future in jeopardy. But repairs and donations helped breathe life back into the landmark.

While the theater isn’t ready to re-open just yet, Koehler said he's hopeful that some operations will be up and running by this summer.

“We are hoping that our Kitchen and Dining Room will be ready for even event Rentals as early as July," Koehler said.

Like many shuttered venues, Swift Creek is awaiting word from the Small Business Administration about a grant to help them operate.

“It is vital, it is like the Payroll Protection Program Loans that everyone's been getting, but we can use it for even more. We can use it for payroll, we can use it to help pay for our contractors, our actors and musicians, we can use it for the shows," said Koehler.

For now, the theater is just glad to see that other venues are opening their doors.

“We’re happy to see arts happening, we’re happy to see people gathering, we’re happy to see theaters are announcing some summer plans and we can’t wait to be a part of that," said Koehler.

The theater already has its fall marketing materials ready to go out. Right now, they're just waiting on money to have them printed.

They also have their fall show cast ready for rehearsals to start in August. They hope to officially open in September.

If you'd like to make a donation, you can drop it off at the Theatre's Office or you can visit their website.