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Groups file bids to take over the Kentucky Theatre

Published: Jun. 25, 2021 at 11:51 AM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The iconic Kentucky Theatre in downtown Lexington is one of many businesses forced to shut its doors by the pandemic.

The future remains uncertain, but there’s a new push to re-open the beloved space.

Back in May, the City of Lexington released requests for proposals to run the Kentucky Theatre. It closed last fall after the management group running it ended their contract.

One of the groups looking to run it is the non-profit, Friends of the Kentucky Theatre. The group’s co-chair, Hayward Wilkirson, says everything he knows about film he learned at the Kentucky.

“It’s a cultural institution, but it’s really a community hub for Lexington,” Wilkirson. “It’s an institution that can’t be replaced and I know it’s very sorely missed.”

Friends of the Kentucky was formed in 2012. They’ve helped raise money for improvements at the venue and if they were given the contract would run the theater as a nonprofit.

“October 2 of this year is the one-hundredth anniversary of the groundbreaking of the theater, so we would love to be open in some capacity by October 2,” Wilkirson said.

Wilkirson says other art-house-style theaters have thrived under a membership model, where people could pay a fee to get extra perks.

That’s just one of the idea they plan to propose. He said they would also look into adding a smaller theater, around 35 seats, so they could expand the films they show.

“With a third screen shift to the third screen. So, we think it’s a double or triple the number of films we can show, which brings people back to the theater more often,” Wilkirson said.

The theater is owned by the City of Lexington. A spokesperson for the city tells us they expect to have a final decision regarding those proposals in three to four weeks.

The other proposal the city received was from the group Royal Doyle Productions based out of Owingsville.

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