National Theatre Restoration

Richmond, Va.’s historic National Theatre is being turned into a concert venue.

Rising Tide Productions’ Bill Reid, who is co-promoting the venue, plans to model the theatre after one of his own buildings, Norfolk’s 1,500-capacity NorVa.

“We’re going to try to do the same thing we’ve done with the NorVa,” Reid told Pollstar. “For quite some time, we’ve had agents and managers say, ‘Listen, you’ve got to do something in Richmond.'”

The Historic Richmond Foundation sold the 1,500-capacity venue to RIC Capital Ventures for nearly $1.6 million, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. The plan is to have the venue restored into a concert hall by the end of 2006.

Rising Tide will work with Brad Wells of Richmond-based James River Entertainment, which produces the Innsbrook After Hours concert series and the Loudoun Summer Music Fest.

“Richmond has always been a tough market to promote in,” Reid said. “The work Brad Wells has done with Innsbrook has been phenomenal. We think the National will be a perfect complement to what he’s been doing during the summer up there.”

One of Reids’ goals is to use the National Theatre as a venue to develop artists within the market.

“We’re about building careers and artists in a marketplace,” he explained. “That’s one thing Richmond hadn’t had in a long time: bringing bands up, developing new acts, introducing people to them and building careers.”

The National reportedly opened in 1923 for theatrical performances but was later used as a movie house and renamed the Towne. It closed in 1983 and was slated for demolition when the Historic Richmond Foundation bought it in 1989.

– Mitchell Peters