Vineland’s historic Landis Theater now under Appel Farm’s management

The historic Landis Theater in Vineland, N.J., is under new management. The 700-seat art deco movie palace has been struggling to stay afloat since it was restored in 2010.

Appel Farm will now book performances for the Landis, a theater that was supposed to be an anchor for revitalization in Vineland. Located in an urban enterprise zone, the theater had been allotted $150,000 in credit. It reopened two years ago following a $10 million renovation.

But the traveling musicals, tributes to 1970s rock bands, and headline comedy acts have not lived up to expectations. The Landis Foundation has turned management over to Appel Farm, an arts complex in Salem County known for its annual folk and blues festival.

But even Appel Farm feels the blues; in 2010, it skipped the festival for financial reasons. Director Mark Packer says the situation has improved.

“We’re presenting it this year, and our sales are the strongest they’ve ever been in the history of the event,” said Packer. “People have more disposable income for entertainment than they did three years ago.”

Packer said more than 500 advance tickets have been sold, with the festival still more than two months away.

The city of Vineland had delayed extending a line of credit to Packer, because its original agreement had been with the Landis Foundation, not with Appel Farm. Last week, however, the city council agreed to release $100,000 in credit for artist advances and marketing.

Packer says a diverse program of music, in addition to dance and theater, will begin in October. It will replace programming that had for years been presented at Appel’s smaller theater.

Editor’s Note:  In a previous version of this story the number of seats at the Landis Theater was incorrect; the venue has 700 seats. The year Appeal Farm skipped it’s music festival was also incorrect; the festival was not held in 2010.     

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