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The State Theatre Counts Down The Days To A Full Crowd

After a year-long closure due to the pandemic, the State Theatre is preparing for the gracious return of its high-energy environment.

When students started returning to campus in the fall, the State Theatre utilized the space for a few small classes but kept the theater closed to the public. This spring, the theater welcomed a group of in-person classes once again.

Before the theater reopens its doors to the public, its staff and those working behind the scenes there give a lot of credit to the State College community for being a reliable friend. Since the summer, many individuals have participated in virtual, unique programs.

Each year, they hold annual in-person film events that have large crowd turnouts. As the events adopted an online format, the community showed up and created a supportive environment for the theater. Along with film events, they provide a home for many performers.

“At the end of February, we held a fundraiser with multiple local bands and partnered with a non-profit to stream live music,” general manager Kerry Cavanaugh said. “It was a wonderful event to celebrate the talent in our community and help other organizations.”

This year, the bands were able to show their “magic of live performance on video.” Because of the support of the community, Cavanaugh said the fundraiser was a hit for the State Theatre.

With the profit losses of closing this past year, the State Theatre was the recipient of February’s fundraiser. The theater and its workers were “humbled at the support and generosity of the community.”

With light at the end of the tunnel, the theater recently started its reopening transition and welcomes reservations for private movie screenings. From birthday parties to anniversaries and even a small group of friends, you can rent out the State Theatre to watch your favorite movies.

Although the space welcomes small events that include masked, socially distanced individuals, the State Theatre will return to full capacity when deemed entirely safe for every individual who wishes to visit.

To be a venue for well-known events, locally and nationally, its staff needs to ensure that a full crowd can safely enter the theater.

“We are looking at the whole reopening process as more of a dial than a light switch,” Cavanaugh said. “Starting with the small events, like private movie screenings, and getting more and more excited to move forward in planning bigger events.”

As they do not have an official reopening day for the entire public, they have taken this time to remodel parts of the theater that needed a bit of TLC.

The theater’s time off gave staff a chance to act on facility changes and makeovers. The majority of the changes have been to align with how they want to function in the pandemic moving forward.

“Even though we are on a trajectory and things are getting better, we still need to be mindful of safety and some of the challenges operating in the pandemic,” Cavanaugh said.

Some of the operations will be forms of touchless payment, reduce any hand-to-hand contact with items, maintain 6 feet apart, provide hand sanitizer throughout the theater, and masks on at all times.

For the State Theatre, staff are ecstatic to be planning precautions such as these. Cavanaugh expressed how lucky they are to even discuss and prepare for a reopening. Like many small businesses, theaters around the country are not reopening because of the lack of profit, so the State Theatre’s staff is excited to get back on its feet.

“We were one of the first to close, and we will be one of the last to open,” Cavanaugh said. “We can’t move forward until we are at a stage of full capacity so it can be profitable.”

Because of the vaccination opportunities now offered within State College, the reopening process is happening a lot faster than expected. With time, and with more vaccinations, full capacity could be reached safely and efficiently.

Within the next few weeks, the State Theatre plans on putting out information on a tentative timeline to the public. To stay up to date, you can follow the theater’s social media accounts listed on its website here.

“To me, art, music, and live events, to a certain extent, make us human and makes life worth living,” Cavanaugh said. “The shared communal experience of live events makes our staff excited and ready to get back in a safe way.”

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About the Author

Larkin Richards

Larkin is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. The only words that leave her mouth are "yinz" and "dippy eggs." Luckily, her writing has much more substance than that. As a Steelers and Penguins fan, sports can become a hot debate. Share your thoughts on dogs (specifically Boston Terriers) with her on Instagram or Twitter: @larkin_richards

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