DANVILLE — A week before its grand reopening, the restored Fischer Theatre now has a new executive director to lead it into the future.
The Vermilion Heritage Foundation’s board of directors announced Friday that Jason Rome of Danville has been hired as the theater’s executive director.
In the announcement, the board said Rome sees his position as an extension of his work in the community “building a bridge between the Fischer’s rich history and the future of an operating theater that positively impacts people’s lives throughout the Danville area through the arts.”
A yearlong overhaul and renovation of the historic theater in downtown Danville is wrapping up next week just ahead of its sold-out grand re-opening concert Sept. 21, featuring a live performance by The Lettermen.
In 2018, the Julius W. Hegeler II Foundation donated funds to renovate the building, with Offutt Construction acting as contractor for the project. Mr. Hegeler, who died in July at age 91, will be honored at the theater’s grand reopening.
Originally built as the Grand Opera House in 1884, then renovated and reopened in 1913 by Louis F. Fischer, the theater has been closed since 1982, with a restoration effort plodding along since then.
The Fischer was built in 1884 as the Grand Opera House and operated as a performing arts venue and later a movie house until the mid-1980s. Since that time, efforts have been ongoing to restore it.
Rome grew up in Westville and Danville and majored in music at Millikin University, where he was a manager at the Kirkland Fine Arts Center. He later moved into the finance world, working with JP Morgan Chase Bank, First Financial Bank, Iroquois Federal Savings and Loan and Vibrant Credit Union in investment, mortgage lending, commercial banking and branch management.
He has been involved extensively in the community, serving on the boards of the Danville Family YMCA, Danville Symphony Orchestra, OSF Foundation, A.L. Webster Foundation, Danville AMBUC’s Service Club, Danville Area Soccer Association, Trees for Danville, Downtown Danville Inc. and Vermilion County Young Republicans.
Rome and his wife, Melissa, live in Danville with their children, Liam, 11, and Amelia, 8.
Other events being planned at the Fischer include a screening of the film version of “The Wizard of Oz” and Pumpkinfest in early October in partnership with Downtown Danville Inc. and Soul Garden Recovery Center. A full fall schedule will be announced soon.