VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) — The Venice Theatre opened its doors for its first show since Hurricane Ian devastated the main stage. However, a lot still needs to happen to get back to normal.
The main stage is still destroyed, but work was done to convert space in the Raymond Center into a smaller theater for now. Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Venice Theatre Laurie Colton says they had to get creative.
“It took a lot of hard work, and it took just determination and hope to be able to say, we’re going to do this, even though that happened, we’re still going to be able to entertain our community,” Colton said. “We are excited.”
It’s not only an exciting night for the people at the theater, but also a positive sign for business owners and the community.
The executive director says the theater brings about 100,000 visitors a year to the downtown area.
Kay Kropac owns Cafe Venice around the corner. She says not only did the theater take a big hit, but the restaurant business also did.
“Since the theater has been down, we’ve seen not as much business,” Kropac said. “We get a lot of our business from the theater.”
But she knows they’ll slowly get those people back.
“It’s a win-win for everybody because it just helps make Venice a better place to live,” Kropac said.
“There was a lot of talk about how we were destroyed and we wouldn’t be able to be here, and that is not the case at all,” Colton said.
The goal is to rebuild and reopen the main stage in January 2024, but they are cleaning up a second theater in the main building which they hope is ready to go at the start of next year.