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Richmond’s Byrd Theatre Receives Historic $500,000 Donation

The Byrd Theatre has received a $500,000 donation, the largest one-time donation in the theatre’s 90-year history.

Philanthropist M.H. "Bud" Reinhart made the historic contribution. It will be used to bolster the business side of the theater’s operations like paying down the mortgage and expanding the number of staff members. Part of the donation will also be put into an “opportunity fund” to develop more educational programming.

Mary Ellen Stumpf, who sits on  The Byrd Theatre’s board, said it’s the educational programming is what sets it apart.

“We are much more than just a theater showing second runs,” Stumpf said. “We’ve always had a mission to be a cinema literacy center, to help the public understand the art, history, and impact of cinema.”

The Byrd Theatre has a regular “Big Screen Classics” series which combines movie showings with talks and Q&A’s.

The theater previously took in $1.5 million during the first phase of fundraising. That money went to major capital improvements like replacing the roof and much of the seating. Reinhart’s donation kicks off phase two. Over the coming years, they hope to raise an additional $2.5 million.

“The entire community will benefit from this extraordinary investment in Richmond’s beloved and historic movie palace,” said Ted Haynes, president of the board.

“The Reinhart family was inspired by the progress on preservation and programs, and by the vision and strategic plan for the Byrd to become a major film literacy center.”

The theater’s auditorium will now be known as The Reinhart Auditorium. A dedication ceremony will be held at The Byrd Theatre on May 9 starting at 5 p.m.

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