Eight years after the formation of the non-profit Belcourt, Yes!, Inc. by a group of concerned citizens committed to saving the Historic Belcourt Theatre, the organization has purchased the theatre and changed its name to Belcourt Theatre, Inc.  

"We are thrilled that the Belcourt is saved," says F. Clark Williams, founding committee member and current board president.  "The journey from getting the theatre 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.  We are pleased to be part of our great city's growth, as well as the effort to preserve our historic spaces for future generations"

Originally built in 1925, the theatre 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 theatre of its kind in the United States.  In 1966, a second theatre was added and The Belcourt became one of several neighborhood movie theatres scattered throughout Nashville. The Belcourt is now the last of the neighborhood theatres to remain operational.

Today, the Belcourt Theatre is recognized as a unique cultural icon and as Nashville's choice for the best foreign, independent and classic film, great musical performances, cutting-edge live theatre and unique programming for kids and their families.

In 2003 the theatre was purchased by founding committee member Thomas Wills with the intention of reselling the theater to the organization for the original purchase price. Belcourt Theatre, Inc. has purchased the theatre from Wills for $1.4 million, the exact amount paid for the property in 2003.  

A quiet capital campaign began in January of 2007 and SunTrust Bank came on board with generous financing terms in late spring after Assistant Vice President for Business Banking Susan Abington learned about the effort.

Board Chairman Mark Chalos observed, "Purchasing the theatre 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 theatre at the top of our list. 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 theatre."

"The next several weeks will be packed with examples of what the Belcourt does best," says Stephanie Silverman, managing director. "With the Bob Dylan Film Festival, fantastic concerts, theatre for both kids and adults, we're wall to wall with programming and we're developing more all the time. Watch for new children's programming in the coming seasons, a hands-on education and outreach program to inspire young filmmakers and ways to connect our dual commitment to film and music with some exciting paired programming. The future is bright and we know how incredibly lucky we are to call the Belcourt Theatre home."

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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