Pearl Theater weathering pandemic

Jessica Tingley

“No one could have predicted the challenges that 2020 would bring to the world and to the Pearl Theater,” outgoing board president Jessica Tingley wrote in the annual report presented at last week’s annual meeting. “Operating a small, volunteer-run theater is challenging in the best of times, and a global pandemic has not made things easier!”

Closed due to COVID-19 in March, a small group of dedicated volunteers have continued to work tirelessly behind the scenes, trying to develop a safe and sensible way to reopen but unable in good conscience to risk volunteers, performers and guests.

At the meeting October 21, board members again brainstormed ideas, but once again, in he face of the current surge of novel coronavirus, voted with unanimous sadness to hold off on reopening, taking it one step farther as the holidays approach, voting to close the venue to rentals and events put on by others, including the ever-popular Christmas movie put on each year with the Bonners Ferry Chamber of Commerce since the Rex Theater closed.

“2020 has been a year of unprecedented change for the world,” Jessica wrote. “For the Pearl, it meant finding new ways to carry on with our mission despite being closed. There will be more changes for the Pearl in coming months that will undoubtedly be a mix of good and bad, easy and hard, scary and exciting. More importantly, though, they will be necessary in order for the Pearl to succeed in these new, difficult times.”

While closed, despite no revenue coming in, the board and volunteers gave the theater a thorough, top to bottom scrubbing. An inspection was conducted to prioritize several repairs that are needed on the decades-old building, formerly a church, to include removing the bell tower and replacing the roof.

Denise Chrichton (left) and Pearl founder Carolyn Testa.

“While we currently don’t have the funds to begin these larger outside projects, the first step of identifying the most urgent needs and developing a strategy to tackle the project has been made,” Jessica wrote. “Our other committees met frequently throughout the spring and summer to work on grant writing and during that process discovered an opportunity t update the Pearl’s bylaws and expand our mission statement in order to better support the talented artisans in our community sharing a remarkable diversity of skills.”

With the end of the fiscal year, the board bid farewell to eight-year member Denise Chrichton, who served as both treasurer and secretary as well as a tireless Pearl advocate, as her term expired.

Skye Dimmitt (left) and Jamie Schnuerle.

After two years as president, board president Jessica Tingley ceded her chair, remaining on the board, and vice president Skye Dimmitt was elected to take over. Member Mark Weatherstone was elected vice president, Heather Olson secretary and Jessica agreed to fill the vacant treasurers slot.

Currently, all the Pearl committees are seeking additional volunteers and leaders who will be essential in shaping the future of the Pearl.

The board appreciates the patience of donors, members and patrons in these difficult days, and bid welcome any who are interested in helping the non-profit, now in its eighth year, keep true to its mission statement, “to foster the performing arts throughout Boundary County for the education, entertainment and inspiration of the community.”

“If you want to help guide the Pearl into the future,” Jessica wrote, “there is no better time than now to get involved!”

To learn more, visit, email or call (208) 610-2846.