Nickelodeon Theater temporarily suspends operations to focus on hiring a director and restructuring staff | Culture & Leisure

The Nickelodeon Theater, the state’s only art house theater and a main street staple in Columbia, is temporarily closing.

The theater — affectionately known as The Nick — plans to close for about a month to restructure its staff, work to hire its next executive director and improve its community relations, the theater announced Feb. 28.

As part of the shutdown, the theater laid off several employees and granted them severance packages, said Xavier Blake, chairman of the theater’s board of directors. He declined to share the number of layoffs, but said the theater’s board hopes to fully renew the staff, around 12 to 15 people, at the theater after the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic end.

The Nickelodeon has been open four days a week for the past few months and it comes as theaters across the country try to rebound from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The temporary shutdown also comes at a turbulent time for Nickelodeon. The theater faced allegations of systemic racism from former staff members in 2020, and the executive director who handled the controversy, Anita Floyd, left the organization in August.

“For us as a board, we’re really excited. I know it’s a scary time, but I want to emphasize that we are not closed,” Blake told Free Times. “For us as a board, we need this break to really serve our community the way we need to.”

Blake explained that the theater – which is undergoing “strategic planning” – hopes to find ways to be more efficient with its staff after the break and hopes to hire its new executive director. The theater has several candidates in mind and recently held interviews, he said.

An email from Nickelodeon said the temporary closure was made with the theater’s “long-term viability” in mind.

“In order to support Nickelodeon and provide the quality experiences our customers should expect, we are temporarily suspending screenings while we work to reset and renew our organization for a post-pandemic world,” reads the statement. ‘E-mail.

“We are not closing but rather taking this time for a spring cleaning of the Main Street facility and a revamp of our operational infrastructure.”

In the email, Blake acknowledged that the Nickelodeon lost money due to low attendance during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, financial support from members, support from foundations and government programs helped to cover these losses.

Blake told Free Times that the theater is financially “as good as most places that rely on audiences, ticket sales for revenue.” He acknowledged that the state of the film industry – which has been slow to return to regular releases – has made it difficult to select films from the cinema.

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“We are no worse off than anyone else in the country in this regard. For people who rely on people to come together, it has been difficult, ”he said. “We are OK financially.”

Following the 2020 racism allegations, Blake said the council is working with other consultants to improve its inclusiveness.

When it reopened, Blake expected the theater to resume regular showings, its special series — which once centered on LGBT themes or films by black filmmakers — and be “innovative in the community.”

The theater intends to hold its red carpet party on March 27, despite being closed.

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