ARTS LEADERSHIP RECIPIENT, 2017 GOVERNOR’S ARTS AWARDS
Nashville’s local nonprofit film center, the Belcourt Theatre has had a historical presence in the Hillsboro Village neighborhood since 1925. This vibrant cultural institution is dedicated to presenting the best of independent, documentary, world, repertory and classic cinema for people of all ages to discover, explore and learn through the power of film.
Opening first as the Hillsboro Theatre in 1925, its history began with silent films and the city’s largest stage. For a period of time, it saw more than just film, playing host to community events, theater productions and was even home to the Grand Ole Opry. It was then renamed Belcourt Cinema in 1966 and saw variations to this over the next 50 years until it was bought and formally named the Belcourt Theatre, Inc. in 2007.
The Belcourt now continues on with its mission to engage, enrich and educate through innovative film programming in its historic theater, the community and beyond. As a unique Nashville treasure with a vibrant historic past and deep roots in the community, it is especially well positioned to enrich the area and add to the city’s arts brand. While the Belcourt attracts audiences across Middle Tennessee, visitors from more than 44 states and five countries also come annually to experience the Theatre.
The Belcourt programs over 300 films a year and offers visitors both an on and off-screen experience, cultivating and building on the powerful sense of shared experience that audiences can achieve. The Theatre fosters discussions about film culture through question and answer sessions with filmmakers and conversations with experts, scholars and community commentators. Additionally, university faculty members, film critics and field experts regularly lead audiences in post-screening discussions.
The Theatre also actively engages students with their high school one-week summer seminar and the Mobile Movie Theatre program. The summer seminar has led to a robust high school film club. The Mobile Movie Theatre has engaged more than 1,300 students a year through film programming and visual literacy activities. It takes the movie experience on the road to reach children and other potentially marginalized groups that might not otherwise make it to the Theatre.
In July of 2016, the Belcourt celebrated a grand reopening after a renovation and preservation project that was the building’s first major update in 50 years. In addition to needed structural updates, the renovation has also allowed for an increase in program and teaching capacity. With its revamped space and historical roots, the Belcourt continues to be recognized as one of Nashville’s most vibrant arts organizations and as a leader among the country’s art houses regionally and nationally.
Videography by The Moving Picture Boys; Editing by M.C. Seals, Voice-over by Sandra Harris; Directed by Suzanne Lynch