by BARB BERGGOETZ
Amanda Webb didn’t have to think twice about her biggest challenge since becoming executive director of the Brown County Playhouse— keeping the historic Nashville, Indiana, theater afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s opening up and some people want to come out, but we’re still struggling,” says Webb, who took over running the 428-seat theater in mid- August. “We need to make money, but we need our patrons to be safe, too.”
Webb, 46, a Nashville resident with her husband, Brian, for 22 years,says the theater requires patrons to wear masks, does deep cleaning, and uses an air system that rotates air every five minutes.
After closing for months due to the pandemic, the playhouse is now offering concerts, live theater, and special events. Still, Webb says, too many seats remain empty.
Webb is used to challenges. She says her diverse experiences and deep connections in Brown County and with the national music industry will help her run the nonprofit theater.
Her previous endeavors include managing The Amanda Webb Band, homeschooling her five sons, teaching voice and piano lessons, managing rental properties with her husband, bookkeeping and accounting, and performing at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where she studied voice.
As director of the 72-year-old theater, Webb is developing plans to cultivate more patrons, raise $50,000 in donations for a movie projector, create stronger connections with schools and the broader community, and develop a more interactive theater experience, including singalongs and costumed events for kids.
Webb wants to turn movies into community mixers, focusing on issues that bring together different types of people, like the LGBTQ+ community and refugees. In early December, the Playhouse will premiere a free documentary, The Addict’s Wake, about Brown County drug addiction.
“My vision is to see [the theater] come back with a little bit more oomph and power,” Webb explains. “It’s about the experience—it’s not just about the show. When you come to a theater, it’s not just about sitting in your seat and absorbing the movie or play.”
Learn more at browncountyplayhouse.org