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