Jenny Wiley Theatre Is Asking The Public For Help

By: Amanda Price Email
By: Amanda Price Email

The Jenny Wiley Theatre in Prestonsburg is hoping the public will help them pay off a significant debt.

The Jenny Wiley Theater is in the red, and employees are looking for a way out.

Jilleyn Bickery goes there every summer. She says, “This could very well easily just be gone tomorrow, and is it something that's worth losing? It's such a special part of Prestonsburg; it brings in tourism. It brings people into this area.”

Employees say the theatre is about 100, 000 dollars in debt. Bill Francis, Jenny Wiley Theatre’s Treasurer, says they've always needed more money, but the debt really started piling up several years ago.

He says, “The floods came Memorial Day weekend, and we had over 100,000 dollars lost at that point in time, before our season even started. It impacted our season, so we're not only recovering from that four years ago, but also the gas prices that killed us this year.”

In addition to high gas prices, Francis says the theatre changed their selection of performances, to ones that just weren't as popular.

This past summer, employees say 5,000 fewer people saw a show.

Francis says, “I think a lot of people didn't want to come and see some of the shows we had because we're trying to go down a different venue or a different avenue to bring people in.”

With a little help from the public, Bill Francis says the theatre can go into its 45th year. Employees are sending out 10, 000 letters, asking each person to donate 10 dollars.

Francis says, “It is a charitable contribution that you can take off your taxes because we're a tax exempt organization under the IRS.”

For people like Jilleyn Bickery, they say it's worth it. She adds, “It's just something really special and connected to my soul. I think it's connected to a lot of people around here, so it's a really special part of eastern Kentucky.”

Officials say there are no plans to close the theatre.

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