The Belcourt Theatre, Nashville’s nonprofit cinema, today announces the Belcourt Campaign, a $4.5 million fundraising effort to renovate, restore and preserve its 90-year old building. Tuck-Hinton Architects is the project architect and R.C. Mathews Contractor will serve as the project’s builder. The campaign has already received gifts and pledges totaling $2.445 million to date. Construction is currently slated to commence in Jan. 2016 and will take five months, according to a press release.
The project will not change the current footprint of the building or its adjacent parking lot. The building itself will be closed during the construction period, and during this time, the Belcourt is planning a series of pop-up screenings at other locations with selected community partners.
“This is an extraordinary time in the Belcourt’s long history, and these plans are the culmination of long-held dreams,” says Stephanie Silverman, the Belcourt Theatre’s executive director. “Just over 15 years ago, the group of dedicated Nashvillians who helped save this building envisioned a nonprofit cultural organization that would grow, adapt and evolve to meet our audiences’ and our city’s needs. They saw then what the Belcourt could become.
“The Belcourt is here today because of those early, dedicated visionaries – and because Nashville film fans have continued to support this cultural gem through the years. The Belcourt Campaign is the next chapter.”
The last major work done on the Belcourt’s building occurred approximately 50 years ago. The need for much of the preservation and renovation work was first discussed over 15 years ago when the building was saved by a group of volunteers and a grassroots campaign, and the nonprofit cultural organization that the Belcourt is today was formed. Since then, resources have been devoted to programming, education and engagement work, and exhibition (i.e. new seats, new carpeting, installation of 4K digital projection systems).
The Belcourt Campaign now addresses other essential and immediate needs throughout the building, necessary to preserve and protect it for decades to come.
Highlights of this project include:
—replace the building’s core systems, such as HVAC, electrical and plumbing, which are near the end of expected life span and increasingly expensive and difficult to maintain;
— improve and expand the Belcourt’s restrooms, and most important, make them wheelchair-accessible;
— in the building’s original 1925 Hall, restore original plaster on the proscenium arch, protect and secure original stage decking, and secure and strengthen the original wooden fly loft;
—expand the lobby and fully activate it along the Belcourt Avenue frontage, making it more welcoming for audiences;
—create a new second floor screening room (with seating capacity of approximately 45), outfitted with a digital projection system and used for public screenings—as well as Belcourt classes and education programs, private screenings, and test screenings for local filmmakers;
—create a new second floor classroom/meeting room to address the Belcourt’s growing film audiences and expanding education programs.
Early leadership support for the Belcourt Campaign has included gifts from the Cal Turner Family Foundation, The Frist Foundation and The HCA Foundation, longtime Belcourt champions H.G. and Nina Webb and Scott and Mimi Manzler as well as gifts from members of the Belcourt’s board of directors and other important individual donors. The Belcourt continues to actively seeking gifts to the campaign from individuals, foundations and businesses.
About the Belcourt Theatre
The Belcourt Theatre is a nonprofit cultural institution that engages, enriches and educates audiences through innovative film programming in our historic theatre, our community, and beyond. Housed in Nashville’s only historic neighborhood theatre, the Belcourt presents the best of independent, documentary, world, and repertory cinema 365 days a year, while promoting visual literacy and providing opportunities for people of all ages to experience the power of film. First opened in 1925 as a silent movie house, the theatre was home to the Grand Ole Opry from 1934-35. Since the re-opening of the theatre as a nonprofit art house in 1999, over a half million people have visited the Belcourt to see more than 1,000 films from every corner of the globe. The Belcourt Theatre is funded in part by the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission and the Tennessee Arts Commission, and is grateful for their support of our nonprofit mission.