Raleigh Playhouse reaches tentative agreement with City of Beckley to reopen

BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – The Bickey Family is pleased to announce that it has reached a tentative agreement to lease The Raleigh Playhouse and Theatre to the City of Beckley, and that the holiday films that were planned for the month of December will be shown.

The Raleigh was opened in 2012 and was part of the vision of Dan Bickey, who saw it as a centerpiece to the revival of Beckley’s downtown. After years of subsidizing the Theatre with profits from other businesses, the family was forced to close the Raleigh, as well as the live-music venue the family owned, Melody’s, last month.

“My family and I are thrilled that this opportunity arose,” said Matthew Bickey, eldest son of Dan, and current president of each of the Bickey companies. “I can’t thank Mayor Rob Rappold and all the members of the City Council enough for recognizing what an integral part of the downtown area the Theatre has become. Now, it gets a chance to continue.”

Details of the arrangement are not finalized at this time, but Shane Pierce will remain as operations manager of the Raleigh, and the formation of a board of several local arts groups is being considered to oversee programming.

“When we announced the closure, I think it made people suddenly realize how important having that space is to the city,” Bickey said. “There was so much immediate engagement, and a lot of outrage. A downturn in our other businesses forced us to close these places, and we did it abruptly, for reasons that our employees understand.

“But that initial shock really jarred the community in a way that revealed just how right my father was about the Playhouse being vital to the renewal of Beckley’s downtown. I am so happy that the Raleigh is going to get a reprieve, and another shot at success with a different structure. I hope that all the people who took the time to comment on, or share our original bad news, will now ardently support the Raleigh in its next phase.”

Showings of “The Polar Express” and “It’s A Wonderful Life” are planned for later this month. Check TheRaleighWV.com or @TheRaleighWV on Facebook for details.

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Tyler Barker is currently the News Director and Digital Content Manager for WOAY-TV. He was promoted to this job in Mid-November. He still will fill in on weather from time to time. You can follow Tyler on Facebook and Twitter @wxtylerb. Have any news tips or weather questions? Email him at tbarker@woay.com