The Milton Theatre, one of the biggest drivers of foot traffic in downtown Milton, announced that it would close temporarily, although indefinitely, due to the latest restrictions implemented by Governor John Carney to slow the winter outbreak of COVID-19. JP Lacap, Marketing Director, for the theatre said that he understood the need for the restrictions, but it was frustrating just the same.
“The latest restrictions do not make it feasible for us to continue operations,” Lecap said. “This is the second time this year that we have closed. We closed in March when all non-essential businesses were ordered to close. We reopened in June with a 30 percent capacity limit, which allowed us to seat 90 to 100 people with social distancing. The recent restriction drops us back to around 16 percent, just 50 people and that is simply not enough for us to operate effectively.”
Lecap explained that the theatre had worked hard to remain open since June in order to provide income to the performers, musical acts, staff, contractors and more. Since the pandemic began, Lecap stated that they have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue and cancelled more than 400 events. This summer, they were able to meet the restrictions by creating “Quayside at Night,” an outdoor area created using donations from the community as well as smaller, indoor events. Winter weather, however, precludes the theatre from doing anything outdoors.
“We were very stringent,” Lecap said. “We required masks and social distancing. We changed the area around the bar to be sure people remained apart. We are very thankful we had no staff member, performer or anyone else at our venue who tested positive. On a personal level, I understand the need for the restrictions, but it is still very frustrating. Unlike restaurants, we have no take-out menu, so our source of income has completely stopped. We have reached out to bands who we had to cancel this year and some have told us they are no longer together as they had to get “real” jobs since they were unable to play venues. It is very sad.”
In addition to losing money from ticket sales, the theatre has also not been able to hold fund raising events or allow rentals which helped them offset costs. Lecap pointed out that they do have events scheduled through June 2021, many of which were cancelled in 2020.
“Unfortunately, we have had to cancel all of our holiday performances,” Lecap said. “That means we now need to refund all of those tickets on top of cancelling some of our future events. Again, although we totally understand the need for the restrictions, the constant changing and concern of the unknown led us to this decision.”
Milton Theatre has set up a fund raiser on their website, “Milton Theatre COVID-19 Relief Fund.” Those who want to help the theatre during this difficult time can make a one-time donation that is 100 percent tax deductible.