May 4, 2022 – Wytheville, VA—A historic step was taken toward reopening downtown Wytheville’s Millwald Theatre—an executive director was recently hired and began his role leading and overseeing the cultural arts organization’s future.
The new executive director—Jeff Potts—comes to Wytheville from Wisconsin where he has been part of a revival of three historic venues during his career. Potts was hired after an extensive national search.
“Jeff brings a lot of experience, passion and energy with him to both the Millwald and to our community,” Chairperson of the Board, Mark Bloomfield, said. “He is really passionate about this kind of work—both from an entrepreneurial-minded business lens as well as through his experiences as a nonprofit leader. He’s a great fit for what we want to do here in Wytheville.”
Beyond the roles Potts has held in nonprofit historic theatre venues, he also previously served as an executive director for a Habitat for Humanity organization and in a leadership role for a destination marketing organization. Potts is a proud Rotarian, experienced nonprofit board member, an engaged community volunteer—and a live music lover. Potts holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.
Potts is the first member of a team the Millwald will onboard in the coming weeks. He looks to build a staff of professional community-minded and focused people who are passionate about the arts and contributing to the region’s progress and economic growth.
“It is part of why I love these small, revived theatres on Main Streets across America—they not only bring a level of talent and entertainment to the region, but they build a dedicated and creative workforce,” Potts said. “All of us who jump on board with the Millwald have an opportunity to be a part of something really special and spectacular—and I’m so honored to lead that effort.”
The Millwald is slated to open later this year. The Millwald, 205 W Main Street, will hold a talent recruitment event from 3 to 6 p.m. on Thursday May 12, 2022 at the theatre. There are many opportunities to get involved with The Millwald, both paid and volunteer. Potts is looking to hire in the areas of marketing communications; fundraising and development; operations; hospitality; technical direction; and more. Stop by with a resume or email HR@themillwald.org with a resume and a few sentences about how your talents would contribute to the Millwald’s future. The nonprofit organization will also need the help of volunteers in many areas. If you are interested in giving of your time and talents, please stop by the event to introduce yourself or send contact information and a brief description of how you’d like to help to HR@themillwald.org.
The Millwald moves into final stage of construction—opening scheduled for later this year
Built in 1928, the Millwald originally boasted Vaudeville and “moving pictures” programming. The modern day Millwald will be a multipurpose space—welcoming world-class entertainment, including music, comedy, film, theatre performances, and more.
“The planning phase of the venue considered everything from aesthetics to technology, as providing patrons with a memorable experience is critical,” Potts said. “
Within the theatre, construction is progressing—with the everything from drywall to infrastructure updates. The stage has been extended and chairs have been delivered and await their installation—all with the excitement of welcoming future crowds to The Millwald. The basement has been built out to include office space, a patron lounge, classrooms, and a back of house suite for touring artists. The building was updated to meet ADA accessibility standards—even adding an elevator. Construction is expected to conclude late this summer—with programming beginning at the venue later this year.
The leadership team at The Millwald is shifting its focus from construction to operations. The team continues to work through the logistics of crowd flow within an old building, food and beverage opportunities, and space planning.
While a date has not yet been announced, a reopening debut concert is tentatively being planned for the fall. Follow us on Facebook or visit us on themillwald.org for details as they become available.
“If you are interested in getting involved in any way—as a donor, volunteer, or team member, please reach out,” Potts said. “I want everyone in the community—literally everyone I meet as I get to know the communities of Southwest Virginia—to understand that they play a part in a community-focused project like the Millwald. It’s a huge undertaking—one that offers great smiles, success, memories, opportunity, and really good music.”
The Millwald is hailed as Virginia’s longest continuously-running theater—and is located in historic downtown Wytheville. The 500-seat venue will open in its restored state later this year. Once fully operational, The Millwald will offer world-class entertainment, including music, comedy, theatre performances, and more. The Millwald is a nonprofit organization supported by the board of directors and beloved community-minded donors. themillwald.org