Director of Lime Kiln Theater Will Likely Close Doors

Lexington, VA - After 28 years and many ups and downs, it looks like the theater at Lime Kiln in Lexington will close for good this weekend.

According to the nonprofit Executive Director Tony Russell, there is likely some wiggle room in the upcoming months, but if significant funding cannot be committed soon, that long running performance arts location will be done for good on Friday.

It was a calculated risk for Russell when earlier this week he told Rockbridge County's Board of Supervisors that if much needed funding wasn't found soon, the curtain will drop for good.

"This was the one chance I had to appeal to them. So I'm saying, 'Hey, this is going to happen'. We've been talking about it a couple of months now about supporting the Kiln and unless something happens this week we are out of cash," said Russell.

But a subcommittee set up by Rockbridge County and the City of Lexington, is still analyzing Russell's request that each locality give the theater $100,000 over three years for some much needed capital improvements.

"Toilets that don't back up. Seats that don't fall over. A rain structure that you don't have to use an umbrella under," said Russell.

But city officials say he only made the request less than two months ago, at the wrong time in their budget process, and they haven't had enough time to make a decision.

Now Lime Kiln's board of directors will decide Friday whether to officially close it down. But they say there will still be time to save the project if the local governments do decide to pitch in for the long haul.

"We're going to have to say, 'Hey, we're going to close the thing and now has to come an unwinding of the process of the 501 c3 status of the actual lease we've got, and that will take time.' I want people to be assured that any point in that process if we're able to reverse it we will," said Russell.

Russell says the newest business model at work allowed the theater to break even this year, and he believes that any money given will be recouped within five years through tourist dollars and taxes.

The local government subcommittee does plan on scheduling another workshop sometime next week.