ABINGDON, Va.— Barter Theatre has officially launched their newest venture, Barter at the Moonlite Drive In. The start of Barter’s production of the Wizard of Oz makes the 87 year old company the first in the nation to produce socially distant, live, in-person theatre at a large scale. To accommodate the production the previously vacant Moonlite Theatre Drive In, in Abingdon Virginia, has been cleaned up and converted into a live performance venue, complete with covered stage and arranged to park up to 220 amply spaced cars. However, the scale of the Moonlite’s audience potential pales in comparison to the tremendous outpouring of community support for this project.
Lead sponsors for the event (Food City, JA Street and Associates, and Mead Tractor) were responsible for procuring the lease and cleaning up the long vacant Moonlite. Countless vendors donated their services and products to the effort. Furloughed Barter employees volunteered their time to mow the Moonlite lawn and ready the Barter Inn for the “Quarenteam.” Support from state and local government helped to push the project forward and the unwavering enthusiasm from Barter patrons fueled the effort to get to this day.
On top of it all, AT&T announced today a $30,000 match contribution to the hard hit theatre. While the Barter at the Moonlite project is providing much needed entertainment, and not to mention tourists, for the local economy, the drive-in will not be a cure all for the financial peril that the unprecedented COVID-19 shut down caused for Barter. AT&T’s support comes at a time when an injection of hope for live theatre is much needed and their generous contribution has the potential to make double the impact with the matching aspect of the campaign. “Barter Theatre is such a great asset not just for Southwest Virginia, but for the entire Commonwealth. We hope our support will help the theatre through this current crisis and enable them to provide enjoyable performances for many more years,” said Vince Apruzzese, president, AT&T Virginia. From now until August 14th any donation made to Barter Theatre will be matched dollar or dollar, up to $30,000.
At a time when the world can seem especially dim, Barter Theatre is a catalyst for light. The creativity of the leadership team, dedication of its staff, community, and supporters enables this historic institution to continue to create spaces for people to gather and share a story, regardless of who they are or where they come from, even in the face of previously unimaginable circumstances. But they don’t, and never have, done it alone. This unlikely gem, a Broadway quality theatre in the heart of Appalachia, shines because of the light of the community it serves.
About Barter Theatre
Barter Theatre, the nation’s longest running professional theatre, is located in Abingdon, Virginia. The theatre opened in 1933 during the Great Depression. Founder Robert Porterfield offered patrons admission to the theatre by bartering food and livestock. Barter Theatre was designated as the State Theatre of Virginia in 1946. It exists today as one of the last year-round professional resident repertory theaters remaining in the United States. Barter Theatre is funded in part by The Virginia Commission for the Arts and The National Endowment for the Arts.