Colonial Williamsburg plans to outsource many of its commercial operations and lay off some workers in response to declining attendance and hundreds of millions in debt, the AP reports. The living history museum at Virginia's 18th-century capital announced plans Thursday to contract with outside companies to run its golf, landscaping, retail, and other operations. The restructuring will include some layoffs at the site, where costumed actors re-enact life in colonial times amid the historic buildings. According to the Virginia Gazette, one major change includes closing the Kimball Theatre, which hasn't been profitable since 1999 and lost $782,000 last year.
Under the restructuring, 71 employees will be laid off by the end of the year; another 262 could eventually be affected. The nonprofit Colonial Williamsburg Foundation said it suffered operating losses last year of $54 million—or $148,000 per day. President Mitchell Reiss says Williamsburg attracts half the visitors it did 30 years ago. It also had more than $300 million in debt at the end of 2016. “If we are going to rededicate ourselves to our core educational mission, we can no longer do everything the way we did in 1976, or 1986 or even 2006,” Reiss says.