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Thursday, September 10

Big Developments at the Belcourt

Big news was announced today from my favorite theater, the historic Belcourt Theatre in Nashville. They will begin renovations starting in January to add a third screen, increase bathroom size, and update and repair the facility. The Belcourt is a building rich in Nashville history. It once housed the Grand Ole Opry. It has been in existence for 90 years, and is sorely in need of updates and repairs. The HVAC, plumbing, and electric all need updating, the structure needs repair, and the 1923 hall, the main screen, needs repair work. Most of all the bathrooms, which are notoriously small, currently are not wheelchair accessible. In addition to repairs, the outside of the building is getting a makeover.

Construction will begin in January, and the Belcourt will be completely closed for six months. They will not lose the parking lot - the new third screen, which will seat 45 people, will be located on the second floor. The second screen, the 1966 hall, will go from 366 seats to 254 seats.

Already on facebook there has been the predictable complaining and gnashing of teeth. look, people, change in inevitable. The place is in serious need of repair. Unfortunately nothing stays the same forever. If the Belcourt is to survive and thrive, it needs to be updated. This will make it a viable theater to be enjoyed for the next 90 years. The plan is to preserve as much of the existing look of the Belcourt as possible, including the arches above the current entrance. I for one am excited about the news, and happy for the Belcourt, which is one of the premiere indy theaters in the country and a true Nashville gem.

 Dr. Gangrene PSA shot in the Belcourt

Below is the press release below, spelling out in greater detail some of the changes that will be coming.  
Dear Belcourt friends,
This morning, we share some very exciting news for the Belcourt and its future. Today, we are publicly announcing the Belcourt Campaign, a $4.5 million fundraising effort to restore, refurbish and preserve our 90-year-old building.
It’s been over 50 years since any major work was done on the Belcourt’s building. Resources have certainly been devoted to our programming and our education and engagement work. We’ve invested in exhibition, with new seats, draping, carpeting, and aisle lighting—and the installation of 4K digital cinema projection systems in both halls. And again and again, we’ve patched and repaired old HVAC, plumbing systems and roof leaks (fixes that have been increasingly expensive). At the same time, however, audiences are growing for all our programming, membership is at an all-time high, and the Belcourt is recognized regionally and nationally.
Now, it is time to meet the responsibilities of caring for the Belcourt’s aging structure—and making sure this vital part of Nashville’s past can continue to serve film fans for decades to come. 
For example...
  • The theatre’s historic gem, the 1925 Hall, needs preservation and renovation—including the original proscenium arch and wooden fly loft.
  • Our restrooms. As you know firsthand, they’re too small. But even worse, they are inaccessible to our patrons who use wheelchairs. We must address that.
  • Given its age, the building lacks key accessibility and safety features—and core systems like HVAC and plumbing need replacement and upgrades.
  • A new 2nd floor classroom/meeting space and a small screening room are part of the plans. This flexible screening room (with seating capacity of about 45) will be 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.
  • This plan will not change the Belcourt's current footprint or parking.

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