VANSANT, VA – JUNE 2, 2023 – A $50,000 grant from the Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority (VCEDA) Tourism Capital Improvement Matching Fund to the Theatre Guild of Buchanan County has been announced.
The funds are being used by the guild to finance building renovations and improvements including electrical upgrades, the purchase and installation of an HVAC system, outdoor shed renovations and other improvements at the former Coca-Cola bottling facility, which was renamed by the group as the Community Arts Mainstage (CAM) and which has housed Theatre Guild performances since 2021.
The Theatre Guild of Buchanan County was formed in 2016 as a Virginia non-stock corporation and is also a 501c3 non-profit organization. Its goal is to bring the highest standard of community theatre to the county and to cultivate arts appreciation.
“VCEDA was pleased to again assist the Theatre Guild of Buchanan County with its plans to continue to renovate and upgrade the former Coca-Cola building as a community theatre,” said VCEDA Executive Director/General Counsel Jonathan Belcher. “The latest round of VCEDA funding for the project comes from the Tourism Capital Improvement Matching Fund and will continue to build upon the renovations which have already occurred, turning the building into the community theatre space. According to the Theatre Guild’s application, two full time and three to four part-time jobs will be created within five years.”
In 2021, VCEDA approved a $50,000 grant from the VCEDA Tourism Capital Improvement Matching Fund to assist TGBC with the initial upgrades and furniture for the CAM. However, additional upgrades remain as needed with the three highest priority needs identified by guild members as being the installation of an HVAC system including duct work, electrical upgrades and the remodeling/restoration of an outdoor shed that was being used to store large props but which was damaged in a May 2022 hailstorm. Currently, the guild has been using propane heaters in the cold months and there is no air conditioning for the warmer months, which guild members noted can make it uncomfortable for guests, in addition to not being energy efficient. The outdoor storage shed also needs to be redone so there is a place to store large props, guild members noted.
“Since our first show at The CAM in November 2021, we have continued to make improvements to enhance the patron experience,” said Theatre Guild of Buchanan County President Jodi Reynolds. “With each grant and donation, we have worked to add pieces that are both functional and fun. Our goal is to be a vital part of the community by bringing the arts close to home and adding experiences that keep the entertainment right here in our backyard.”
Since its inception, TGBC has had yearly performances from both the youth and adults in the community. TGBC has strived to become a professional theatre organization by bringing Broadway musicals, plays and original productions to Buchanan County. Performances have been numerous and have included “Alice in Wonderland,” “Annie Jr.,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “A Christmas Carol” and “The Wizard of Oz.” Prior to leasing its current space at 1207 Lovers Gap Road in Vansant in 2021 and converting it into the CAM, performances were held at Grundy High School.
The guild holds a 15-year lease with the option to renew for 10 years on the current building.
The Theatre Guild of Buchanan County is overseen by a board of directors, who in addition to Reynolds includes Reece Robertson, vice president; Jessica Savage, secretary; Tina Clevinger, treasurer; and Brandee Brown, Taylor Burgess, Traci Evans, Lora Scott, Stephanie Stiltner, Carla Thomas, Kara Viers, Jessica Vanover, Ashlei McCoy and Dr. Dia Owens.
“I’m very happy to see the Theatre Guild of Buchanan County be named as a grant recipient from VCEDA’s Tourism fund,” said Matthew Fields, executive director of the Buchanan County Industrial Development Authority. “The Theatre Guild of Buchanan County has become an important asset in the community in a short time by providing the youth an opportunity to explore the arts and an outlet for families to enjoy wholesome entertainment. I commend the Theatre Guild for the steadfast dedication they have toward the opportunities they are providing for the youth and I see nothing but continued success in their future.”
About Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and Southwest Virginia’s e-Region: The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority, created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1988 to enhance and diversify the region’s economy and help create jobs, markets Southwest Virginia’s e-Region and its focus on electronic information technology, energy, education, emerging technologies, and entrepreneurship. VCEDA is a unique economic development organization that manages funds for economic development projects from a percentage of the coal and natural gas severance taxes paid by coal and natural gas companies that operate in the region. Located in southwestern Virginia, the region includes Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties and the City of Norton. www.vceda.us or www.e-Region.org.