The historic Tower Theatre along Route 66 in Oklahoma City recently saw layoffs and a big management shake-up.
The Lost Ogle, an OKC-based website that has broken a number of big stories over the years, reported at least nine people at the theater were laid off, others were forced to reapply for their jobs, and the co-operator of the facility resigned.
Chad Whitehead, who now runs the theater, said the decision was an “immediate and necessary financial move” to keep the business alive. The Lost Ogle obtained a screenshot of Whitehead’s announcement from an internal Slack channel.
Patrick, creator of the website, opined:
Tower Theatre has always seemed a bit too focused on political and cultural engagement and being liked by the left-wing crowd on social media, so it’s probably good for them to switch to a business model that will actually focus on being a successful business.
The Lost Ogle also noted SaveLive — a venture capital group that began investing in cash-strapped independent music venues during the COVID-19 pandemic — worked with Whitehead to acquire a majority stake in the Tower Theatre last year.
According to Cinema Treasures, the Tower Theatre opened on July 15, 1937. It once seated 1,500 people. The theater sits on Northwest 23rd Street, which was Route 66 from 1926 to 1954.
The theater closed in 1989, and it reopened as a live music venue with some use as a host to film festivals in April 2016.
(Image of the Tower Theatre marquee in Oklahoma City)