Fox and Southface join forces to make historic theatres across the southeast sustainable

The Fox Theatre’s iconic marquee has 5,000 lightbulbs that were replaced with lower-energy LEDs in 2014, creating significant energy and utilities savings.  (Photo courtesy of Fox Theatre)

At a time when a global pandemic has forced theaters across the country to go dark, the Fox Theatre Institute (FTI), a department of Atlanta’s Fox Theatre, is partnering with environmental nonprofit Southface Institute and its GoodUse program to make historic theaters across the Southeast more resilient and resource-efficient.

Through the partnership, FTI will offer outreach, consultation and sustainability education to historic performing arts venues while Southface will provide technical assistance and grants to make the environmental upgrades that will reduce carbon emissions and energy costs which will allow the theaters to redirect the financial savings to core programming, educational outreach and important ongoing restoration efforts.

The funding comes through Southface’s GoodUse nonprofit grant program and will provide $30,000, 2:1 matching grants to be awarded to theaters beginning in March.

“We are grateful to partner with Southface and bring 12 years of FTI experience in funding, preservation assistance, presenting and fine arts management,” Leigh Burns, Director of the Fox Theatre Institute said. “While we have worked with Southface on our own energy efficiency here at 660 Peachtree Street, this grant continues our own mission to preserve and share the Fox Theatre’s commitment to sustainability. Additionally, we look forward to learning from the knowledgeable and enthusiastic team at Southface and hope this is just the beginning of other shared initiatives.”

“Southface has been a proud partner with Fox Theatre since 2014 when the theater first received funding through GoodUse’s predecessor, Grants to Green,” said Andrea Pinabell, President of Southface Institute. “Together we’ve made extensive water and energy efficiency upgrades that have reduced the theater’s utility expenses and helped this beloved Atlanta icon continue to thrive in our community. Given that approximately 20% of primary energy use in the United States is consumed by nonprofits, including historic theaters that have yet had the opportunity to be upgraded, we’re excited that through FTI we can give that same boost to theaters that are the centerpiece of cultural life in many other communities and help them find a sustainable and more resilient path forward.”

GoodUse applications are open on the Southface website and are due Feb. 5. One major requirement for eligibility is that a historic theater must be 50 years or older or listed on the National Register of Historic Places.