The cinema, which featured first-run films on three screens, was popular with all of the neighborhoods in Southeast Seattle. The area suffered a great blow when it closed earlier this year. Since then, residents and businesses have repeatedly expressed a desire to reopen the beloved movie house.
In response, SEEDArts says it has been working with a community Advisory Board to investigate the feasibility of raising funds to refurbish and reopen the cinema.
“[The] goal is to maintain a critical cultural space in Southeast Seattle, an underserved area that represents one of the nation’s most diverse zip codes,” said SEEDArts Executive Director Jerri Plumridge.
The cinema closed in May when the previous owner couldn’t afford to install a fire sprinkler system needed to bring the building up to code. SEEDArts wants to rent the building for one year in an effort to maintain the building’s status as a public cultural and entertainment space.
During this time, an advisory board will embark upon a feasibility study and a capital campaign to raise approximately $1.1 million to renovate the building, fix the code violations and establish operations. To sign the one-year lease, SEEDArts must raise $60,000.
“The mission of the Columbia City Cinema will be to provide an entertainment experience in Southeast Seattle, to offer a community-based alternative to the commercial film venues, and to celebrate and promote the artistic elements of film,” added Plumridge.
She says the cinema will offer popular first/second run movies, foreign and independent films and specialized programming geared towards its diverse community.
Although a lot of excitement has been generated in the community, Plumridge emphasized that the project is only in its early stages.
“SEEDArts and the Cinema Advisory Board are working together to finalize a business plan, establish reliable contractor bids for construction and confirm the support capacity of the local community and of public and private sources,” she said.
The Columbia City Cinema will be a project of SEEDArts, which is a program of SouthEast Effective Development, a not-profit corporation founded in 1975 whose mission is to build strong communities in Southeast Seattle through the provision of housing, arts, and economic development programs.
SEEDArts owns and operates Southeast Seattle’s two main arts facilities: the Rainier Valley Cultural Center and the Columbia City Gallery. Donations can be made here.
Photo/Rainier Valley Post