Leeds project great for downtown

Published 12:41 pm Monday, March 20, 2017

We have long said the Leeds Center for the Arts can become a vibrant anchor for downtown Winchester, and it is exciting to see that coming to fruition.

The 91-year-old theater closed in November for a revitalization project that will truly help return the downtown jewel back to its former glory.

A little more than four months later, the proverbial gem is really starting to shine once again.

We applaud this initiative, something that has truly been a community collaboration between the Winchester Council for the Arts, volunteers, the Boy Scouts and many others.

The city generously picked up the tab for the theater’s operating expenses during the closure because city leaders understand the importance of the building and the impact it can have on the entire community.

In less than a month the public will get its chance to see the culmination of this hard work with the “Rediscover Leeds” open house set for April 14. We expect a huge turnout.

Things will get even busier from there.

The first event in the renovated theater will be a concert by cellist and Lexington native Ben Sollee April 15. “Disney’s Little Mermaid Jr.” premieres April 28 for the first of four shows. In August, “Hairspray” takes the stage followed by “Disney’s Lion King Jr.” in November and “The 39 Steps” in April 2018.

There will likely be other events added to the schedule, all with the focus on bringing people together and attracting them to downtown Winchester.

When added to separate initiatives to add multiple restaurants, a distillery and other new businesses, plus the focus by the existing downtown businesses that are working hard to offer important services, it feels like downtown is on the precipice of great things.

We can all do our part to support these efforts by spending our time and money in the heart of Winchester, one we truly believe will soon be beating stronger than it has in decades.