History and Mission
In the early 1970s, Mrs. Mary Catherine Moser, President of the Alamance County Arts Association, asked Dover Moore and Ira Drake, both of Burlington, to study the possibility of starting a community theatre group in Burlington. The two began talking to people in the community and discovered a lot of people were interested. They officially became The Gallery Players in 1971. The group drew their name from the Gallery Craftshop and the Gallery exhibit room in the Arts Center.
For the first eight years of their existence, The Gallery Players were nomadic, performing in school auditoriums and churches. In 1977, they began renting the historic Paramount Theater from the City of Burlington. Originally opening in 1928 as a movie theater, the Paramount had closed in the early 1970s. The Gallery Players immediately began working to refurbish the rundown theater with support from local citizens. A variety of people and businesses in the community donated both resources and energy to begin refurbishing The Gallery Players’ new home. The City of Burlington sold the Paramount Theater to The Gallery Players in 1985 for one dollar a year as long as the group continued to refurbish the facility. The Gallery Players, with the help of local organizations, worked hard over the years to raise money and work to refurbish the Paramount Theater. The Burlington Junior Women’s Club held a benefit and donated proceeds to the restoration of the theater.
The Gallery Players were forced to surrender the Paramount Theater to the City of Burlington in 1994 because the small volunteer organization could not manage the needed repairs. At that point, The Gallery Players were once again homeless. The group was again forced to perform in schools and churches.
In 1995, the Burlington City Council spent $1.8 million to restore the Paramount Theater. The theater reopened on February 20, 1998. Since the restoration, the Burlington Recreation and Parks Department has taken over the responsibility of running the theater. The Gallery Players once again called the Paramount Theater their official home, and have not moved since.