Group created to save the Belcourt buys it

Wednesday, November 7, 2007 at 2:18am

Eight years after the formation of the nonprofit Belcourt, Yes!, Inc. by a group of concerned citizens committed to saving the Historic Belcourt Theatre, the organization has purchased the theater and changed its name to Belcourt Theatre, Inc., it was announced Tuesday.

“We are thrilled that the Belcourt is saved,” said F. Clark Williams, a founding committee member and current Board President, in a press release. “The journey from getting the theater operational eight years ago to this incredible milestone was made possible by unflagging community support, a committed Board of Directors, an engaged staff, and a group of very generous donors who understand the importance of preserving this community treasure and its program.”

The newly christened Belcourt Theatre, Inc. is paying $1.4 million for the theater, the same price founding committee member Thomas Wills paid for it in 2003. Wills has been intent on selling the Belcourt to the organization.

A quiet capital campaign was launched in January of 2007, and SunTrust Bank gave assistance with generous financing terms in late spring, according to yesterday’s release.

Originally built in 1925, the theater has played a critical role in Nashville’s cultural history. It was the first theatrical home to the Grand Ole Opry from 1934-1936 and the original space for Nashville Children’s Theatre, the longest running children’s theater of its kind in the United States.

The Belcourt is now the last of Nashville’s neighborhood theaters to remain operational.

“Purchasing the theater is a critical step both symbolically and operationally. Building on several years of significant growth, the Board of Directors is looking at next steps with renovation and restoration of the theater at the top of our list,” said Board Chairman Mark Chalos. “With a fiscally sound and programmatically strong operation, we’re seeing not only new needs for space, but also a responsibility to honor the historical nature of the 1925 theater.”

Today, the Belcourt plays host to foreign, independent, and classic film, concerts, live theater, and unique programming for kids and families.

More information can be found at www.belcourt.org

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By: terrencio on 12/31/69 at 6:00

A month ago my wife and I attempted to attend a musical event at The Belcourt; the scheduled performer wasn't there and, after 45 minutes staring at an empty stage, and after signing the 'refund list' in the lobby, we left. Up to that point Belcourt staff had made no announcement of any kind but, when approached upon exiting, a staffer confessed they had no idea where the performer was, if he would show, or how to reach him by phone. (we were subsequently told he eventually appeared and began his performance more than one hour late.) After several emails to inquire as to how The Belcourt would handle the refunds I was told by the Managing Director, Stephanie Silverman, to go chase the show's "producers". The Belcourt advertised the show, their website sold the tickets, and their building was the venue. . . but they denied all responsibility and refused to offer any assistance. Stephanie made it very clear: The Belcourt would do nothing to help me, and the numerous others who left, to recover our money. Any organization so dismissive of it's paid audience, and so unwilling to 'do the right thing', deserves neither the respect nor support of the local community. The architecture may be a "community treasure"; the attitude of the organization inside it is most definitely not.

By: JML on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Terrencio,I've had the pleasure of working directly with the Belcourt staff on a number of events and found them all to be pleasant, professional and dedicated to their cause.I've also been to lots of movies and concerts there (man, JJ Cale was incredible). Have you? Who was the act that went on 45 minutes late and was nowhere to be found?

By: belcourtfan on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Ah leave it to terrencio to try and spoil a shining moment in the community with his own selfishness. Being in the music industry, as so many are in town, you'd think he'd acknowledge that venues like the Belcourt don't book their own music shows or advertise them or even have any direct contact with the performers, all things don't by outside promoters. And are you talking about Raul Malo?I heard from someone in Malo's camp that he knew the venue had an 8:00 start time, but went out to dinner with his band only a few minutes prior. Why? Because they never contracted an opening act.Second-hand information, true. But I've never been to a show over there that didn't start on time, and I've seen a lot!I've heard that Raul's a diva. Now it seems he's just an asshole.

By: terrencio on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Ah, leave it to belcourtfan to suggest asking for what you paid for is "selfishness". You must own a lot of ocean-front property in Arizona. Of course we're all aware the services provided by a business like the Belcourt are different from those provided by outside promoters, management companies, etc. And it may be true most of the Belcourt shows begin on time . . . but this one didn't. The gripe is not that there was a problem; the gripe concerns the Belcourt's utterly dismissive attitude toward rendering assistance. If I have a problem with a hamburger at Noshville Deli, I don't want to be told to contact the meatpacking plant.And JML . . . I didn't say anyone was rude. The Belcourt management was very polite as they told me to go pound sand. Raul Malo may be a diva . . . and an a-hole too for all I know. But that misses the point. The point is that the Belcourt, for all it's talk about being connected to the local community, behaves like some huge, impersonal, money-grubbing corporation when it comes to keeping the customer satisfied. And if that's what good folks like JML and belcourtfan want, have at it. But there are a lot of music venues in this town . . . and I'd prefer to patronize those that see me as more than my Ticketmaster Order #.

By: belcourtfan on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Good thing Belcourt Theatre has their own ticketing system and doesn't use Ticketmaster then.

By: MJB on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Terrencio, you had one bad time. It's insufficient for a judgment. Please attend another concert &, thus, try the Belcourt again.