Help the Alabama and Lyric Theatres raise $500,000. Click to donate to our GoFundMe campaign.
Please invest in the future of these Birmingham Landmarks.
The Lyric Theatre and Alabama Theatre have survived more than a century in downtown Birmingham, Alabama, but the COVID-19 pandemic has jeopardized the future of our historic venues. Since March 18, public health concerns have required us to cancel or postpone more than 90 movies, school field trips, concerts, dance competitions, comedy shows, worship services, proms, graduations and weddings. The Alabama and Lyric Theatres earn 90 percent of their operating budget by hosting events. Owned and operated by nonprofit organization Birmingham Landmarks, Inc., the theatres are not publicly funded. By the end of this year we will have lost more than $2 million in revenue. Please make a donation today. Without your help, we’re history.
There is no option to just “board up” the theatres and wait for the pandemic to end. Both theatres are delicate historic structures that require constant care and maintenance. If we stop heating and cooling the buildings the plaster will crack, the paint will peel and the velvet curtains will mildew. We all saw what a period of neglect did to the Lyric. We can’t afford to let that happen to these theatres again. There is no choice but to continue the maintenance of both theatres, whether the doors are open for events or not. Restrictions on large events are making it impossible for shows to make money, so the the theatres continue to sit empty. We need your help to make sure the Alabama and Lyric Theatres survive another century in downtown Birmingham.
About the Alabama Theatre:
Built in 1927 by Paramount Studios, the Alabama Theatre was used primarily as a movie palace for 55 years, with the exception of the annual Miss Alabama pageant and the weekly Mickey Mouse Club. In 1987, the owners of the facility declared bankruptcy and the theatre was purchased by Birmingham Landmarks Inc., a non-profit corporation formed by members of the Alabama Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society — the group that still cares for the theatre’s Mighty Wurlitzer theatre organ. After a front-to-back restoration in 1998, the Alabama Theatre now seats more than 2,100 guests and hosts more than 200 events each year.
About the Lyric Theatre:
Built in 1913, the Lyric opened January 14, 1914, as a vaudeville theatre. The Marx Brothers, Mae West, Milton Berle, and Buster Keaton performed there in its heyday. For more than 40 years, the Lyric served as a cinema, a concert hall, a house of worship and a playhouse. The Lyric was one of the first theatres in Birmingham where Black and white audiences saw the same show for the same time at the same price, but it was a segregated space — with a separate entrance and separate seating for Black patrons. The theatre closed in 1960. Birmingham Landmarks Inc. acquired the building in 1993. Following an $11.8 million restoration, the Lyric reopened on January 14, 2016 — 102 years after the original opening night. The 750-seat venue once again serves as a showcase for live performance, hosting concerts, comedy, dance recitals and drama.
If you would prefer to mail in a donation, you can send a check to:
Birmingham Landmarks, Inc.
1817 3rd Avenue North
Birmingham, AL 35203
Please write GoFundMe donation in the memo.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q. Are the Alabama and Lyric Theatres owned by the city of Birmingham?
A. No. The Alabama and Lyric are owned by a nonprofit organization called Birmingham Landmarks, Inc. The theaters do not recieve funding from the city or state.
Q. Why don’t you just open up for events already?
A. The theatres are primarily used as rental facilities, meaning that promoters and event producers rent the building and bring in an event that they are managing. Health concerns and travle restrictions are keeping nationally touring artists from booking shows. Even if they are willing to tour, restrictions on large events make it to where it costs more to produce an event than can be made on ticket sales.
Q. Can I rent the theatres for my event?
A. Yes! The theatres are available for rental with special accomodations to follow public health and safety requirements. If you are intereseted in renting the Alabama Theatre or Lyric Theatre, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. What have you done save money or make money during the pandemic?
A. As soon as we realized that events were cancelling around the country and we would be closed for a while we immediately cancelled or paused every service we could: cleaning service, point of sale system, trash pickup, icemaker service, etc. We negotiated every bill and unplugged everything we could to save energy. We have been producing online concerts on Facebook Live featuring local artists at the Lyric and performances of the Mighty Wurlitzer Organ at the Alabama. We partnered with Yellowhammer Creative on tshirt sales benefiting both theatres. We are also trying socially distanced movies as a test for modified public events.