As The Belcourt Theatre dives into its fall season in a newly renovated space, we can’t help but take a look at the past, present and future of this iconic Nashville institution. We sat down with Stephanie Silverman, The Belcourt Theatre’s executive director, to learn the ins and outs. The renovations were completed last month, and we are thrilled to use this as an opportunity to revisit this well-loved landmark. “One of the coolest things about this project is when you walk into the lobby, it feels so new but when you walk into the theaters, they are the theaters you have always known,” Stephanie says of the renovation. “We love to watch people’s reaction to that; it is cool to see everyone explore and experience it all.”
Whether you’ve experienced the new space for yourself or you have it on your summer bucket list, here are a few things we think you should know about this beloved Nashville treasure.
15 Things to Know About The Belcourt Theatre
1. The Belcourt Theatre, known as Hillsboro Theatre at the time, first opened in 1925. At different points in history, the theater was also known as Little Theatre, Nashville Community Playhouse, The Belcourt Playhouse and Belcourt Cinema — and it even sat unused for a brief period in 1999. “Talk about having nine lives,” Stephanie says of the theater’s many incarnations.
2. The theater was home to the Grand Ole Opry for roughly two years, from October 1934 to June 1936.
3. The Belcourt has been operating as a 501(c)3 for 17 years. The non-profit status came through in 1999, and the Belcourt, under its current operating model as a 501(c)3, opened for business in 2007 with screenings.
4. Before the recent renovation, it had been 50 years since the last major renovation on The Belcourt Theatre.
5. The renovation and preservation project took six months to complete.
6. The ongoing fundraising campaign has a goal of $5 million. As of today, about $4.3 million have been raised. They are still looking to raise more and welcome contributions!
7. About 4,000 square feet were added to the space, which, previously, was at 13,000. The second-floor addition and the box office account for the majority of this space. Don’t worry; they maintained as much parking as possible.
8. Six stalls are now in the much-talked-about, recently renovated women’s bathroom. “The biggest crime of the bathrooms before the renovation was that they were not wheelchair accessible,” Stephanie says of the changes. This was rectified, the men’s bathroom also was renovated, and two upstairs family bathrooms were added.
9. There are three theaters within The Belcourt. The 1925 Hall has 332 seats, The 1966 Hall has 225 seats, and the Manzler/Webb screening room has 35 seats.
10. The classroom can sit up to 30 people.
11. Thirty-seven schools and partners participate in The Belcourt’s Education and Engagement Program.
12. The films screened are 35-millimeter, 16-millimeter and digital.
13. During The Belcourt’s 2015 season, 110,000 tickets were sold.
14. In 2015, 319 films were shown. Of those, 140 were first-run films, 52 were documentary films, 205 were repertory films, 39 countries were represented, 2,866 screenings were held and 135,000 people visited the theater.
15. The Belcourt runs successfully thanks to nine full-time employees and 20-25 part-time employees.
For more information about films, events, education, engagement or support, visit belcourt.org.
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