Jefferson Center asks community for support by giving now, gathering later

'This has been very hard'

ROANOKE, Va. – A once Roanoke high school turned entertainment venue has been hit hard during the pandemic.

The Jefferson Center is a hub for gathering and consuming art together and educating the next generation of creatives.

10 News sat down with the executive director of the nonprofit to talk about their cry for the community’s help called “Give Now Gather Later.”

“Our mission is about community interaction. It’s about people having an opportunity to experience the arts together in a room together, so this has been very hard,” said Cyrus Pace, Jefferson Center Executive Director.

COVID abruptly closed the curtain on season 19 at The Jefferson Center and could keep the upcoming milestone year for the nonprofit in the dark.

“I think the hardship will continue for quite some time. At this point we’re imagining a January, February start to what would have been our 20th season,” Pace said.

A season expected to top-off two decades of hard work with big names now has industry leaders questioning if people will even walk through the doors.

That's led The Jefferson Center to adjust its budget, letting go of three full-time employees and slimming down part-time staff.

“I think the broader story is this is really a catastrophic change to the way the music business can sustain employment for folks,” said Pace.

Even with capital concerns, Pace said it’s important for The Jefferson Center and other entertainment venues to put the community’s health first.

“When you get out too assertively or too aggressively, because you need the cash flow and you’re trying to create scenarios which are hopefully safe, I think there’s a lot of risk in that,” Pace said.

If you would like to support Give Now Gather Later, click here.

About the Author: