By now, many of you have probably seen recent updates on Bethlehem’s historic Boyd Theatre. First, we found out that the property had a buyer for the price of $1.35 million. Then, just yesterday, lehighvalleylive.com reported that the theatre has been classified as a “blighted” property.
While many details about the property and its future are unclear, we know two things: 1) Somebody, somewhere in the Valley has at least a loose plan to do something with it and 2) many on the music scene hold the opinion that the Boyd would make a great live music venue, right in the heart of Historic Bethlehem.
Think of the possibilities: A music venue on the North side, similar in transformation to Easton’s State Theatre, where musicians – local, regional, and even national touring acts – could come to play. The Boyd could cater to an entirely different kind of artist (imagine hard rock, alternative, or even hip hop showcases) than many of the region’s other established venues, offering a little more color, variety and opportunity to the Valley’s original music scene. More of the region’s lesser-known, but wicked talented artists could be featured, and therefore prevented from heading to the seemingly-greener, nearby pastures of Philadelphia and New York.
Imagine turning the Boyd into a venue that could attract a national touring act – veteran bands with respectable followings, like Death Cab for Cutie, Breaking Benjamin, Volbeat or, my personal favorite, Our Lady Peace. Then, imagine the opportunity local artists would have to open for them. The headliners would attract a crowd, and our local artists could attract larger followings, and have their hard work noticed by larger audiences, simply by being on the bill.
Then, there are the potential implications for Main Street’s businesses. More foot traffic on nearby Broad Street bodes well for the shops and restaurants that populate downtown, especially amid concerns that the re-zoning of Martin Tower may cause those businesses to take a hit once the land is re-developed. A performance space in an arts-rich community could be the remedy to that, as it gives folks a brand-new reason to visit Main Street.
With all of that being said, there are certainly challenges that lie ahead for the Boyd Theatre, and there is a lot more of this story to be told before all is said and done. In the meantime, we can still dream.
So, dream on and let us know what you think should become of the Boyd in the comments!