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When the COVID-19 pandemic first shut down Oregon back in March of last year, Lani Jo Leigh, the longtime owner of the Clinton Street Theater in Southeast Portland, had no idea if her theater would survive.
“I’m 67,” Leigh said. “We were having to throw our own retirement savings at keeping the theater alive, and at some point, as reasonable people, knowing that I’ve still got years ahead of me, I just kept thinking, do we cut our losses and just walk away?”
The theater couldn’t show movies or host live productions. But she wasn’t ready to give up the theater, which she thinks of almost as another person.
“We still felt like we needed to be in touch with our community: We’re still here and we’re still trying to make a go of it,” she said. “So we changed the marquee.”