Major leadership changes at Byrd Theatre; More could be on the way

Major leadership changes at Byrd Theatre; More could be on the way

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Major changes are happening inside the walls of the Carytown Icon. The changes start with a man in love with the 91-year-old building.

“I live right here in the same block. I’m across the street. This is my neighborhood,” Todd Schall-Vess.

It’s a love story that’s left him heartbroken.

“Without cause and without warning, I was dismissed on the 20th of November,” Schall-Vess said.

Schall-Vess had been the general manager for 21 years but one simple vote by the board changed it.

Todd Schall-Vess had been the general manager for 21 years but one simple vote by the board changed it.
Todd Schall-Vess had been the general manager for 21 years but one simple vote by the board changed it. (Source: NBC12)

“They had nothing to say about it. It was like there was a vote and you are no longer wanted. That’s it,” Schall-Vess said.

Schall-Vess says it came without warning or reasoning.

“Part of their problem with me is I’m not a yes man. I’m not going to just say ‘I’m sure since you came up with the idea let’s do it’. I’m going to say when the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes,” Schall-Vess said.

Schall-Vess believes the board is trying to go in a new direction to become a first-run theatre.

If changed, that means current films would be shown at the Byrd rather than older, “second-run” movies.

“You are going to pay a lot more for your product and pay a higher percentage. You can’t show something for two weeks and then move on. You have to commit to more,” Schall-Vess said.

Schall-Vess fears the decision will cause more problems for the theatre.

“You do have to remain grounded. You can’t just turn your back on the people supporting you and your lifeblood and the programming they want to see and say we are heading off in a new direction,” Schall-Vess said.

Representatives for the Byrd Theatre declined to comment, citing personnel issues.

Lisa Rogerson works with marketing for the Byrd Theatre and says there have been no programming changes thus far.

A major announcement is expected in the future.

“I look and I look at the building and I see the people on the other side because ultimately the people are the ultimate reason that it’s important at all,” Schall-Vess said.

As the iconic organ music continues to play Schall-Vess says he wants to see his true love continue to grow.

“It doesn’t feel like I am losing a job. It feels as though I loss a family member. It’s like a well-known member of my family died,” Schall-Vess said.

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