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  • Proposed Plan

  • FAQs

    Columbia Theatre Project

    Frequently Asked Questions


    •Why do you want to save that old building?

    The Columbia Theatre is a landmark building in our community with outstanding architectural value as well as operational value for the Paducah Film Society. It also provides a revitalization key for future growth and viability of Paducah’s historic downtown. The theatre’s location is paramount to the vitality of our historic district and will play a major role in bringing life back to the 500 block of Broadway.


    •What are you going to use it for?

    The basic plan for the theatre will be as an art house directed by the Paducah Film Society, a venue for foreign/independent film, educational activities/workshops, live performances, lectures and special events, and rental space.  The current state of the theater has two theatre spaces, but will be made into 3 with seating ranging from 114-280 seats, offering space for a broader scope of available independent/first run films, touring musical acts and private rentals.


    •What is the difference between the Paducah Film Society and Maiden Alley Cinema?

    Maiden Alley Cinema was born from the Paducah Film Society, which started screening films once a month back in 1991.  After 10 years of being an active non-profit the need for a permanent space was necessary and a capital campaign was forged.  In 2001 Maiden Alley Cinema became the home of the Paducah Film Society.  This project would be an extension of the current programming model of Maiden Alley Cinema drawing on the ideals and mission of the Paducah Film Society.


    •Who is going to own and operate the theatre?

    In order to receive preservation grants and state and federal tax credits for the project, the theatre will be owned by several entities over the course of restoration. Ultimately the theatre would be owned by the Paducah Film Society.


    •How could a cinematic art house sustain with the existence of a larger corporate chain movie theater ?

    There are many misconceptions about the idea of a movie theater and an art house.  The Paducah Film Society opened MAC as an independent cinematic art house showcasing independent/foreign films.  Since its beginnings the programming model has expanded and adjusted to fit the needs of the region.  This trend would continue with expansion to the Columbia Theater.

    The programming limitations of having only one screen

    cannot be overstated.

    Additional screens will increase revenue by 40%, allow for multiple films to be screened simultaneously and give PFS a market edge in acquiring the bigger films that would normally only play at chain theaters.  In addition private rentals are a huge part of the joy of working with a LOCALLY owned and operated cinematic art house.  It is not a corporate entity, but an arts venue that can work with community partners in programming.  There is so much more potential to create programming that has an impact.  There would also be the live music aspect which has seen GREAT success at Maiden Alley Cinema, drawing musical acts that are known internationally and causing hundreds of patrons to be turned away due to capacity limitations.


    •Why do we need another theatre in Paducah?

    The Maiden Alley Cinema is a small venue and in addition cannot schedule daytime activities since MAC shares its space with the River Discovery Center and Seamen’s Church Institute. The programming model that has become standard operation for the Paducah Film Society has outgrown its current location. Paducah’s geographic location is perfect for a mid-sized theatre to not only showcase films and filmmaking educational activities and programming but also to attract performers who require just the theatre size as that of the Columbia.  An historic theater creates a space that is not only sought out by patrons simply for the scheduled entertainment provided, but also to absorb the magnificent atmosphere that a theater of this stature offers.


    •Will it hurt or compete with other arts venues?

    Each Paducah arts venue is unique in its mission and audience size.  This project is aiding in the expansion of one that currently exists (Maiden Alley Cinema) thereby building on the success of a proven model. The Columbia will utilize programming that is not in direct competition with any other venue as the plan will use film as an anchor.  For programming such as live music the Columbia will draw acts that do not currently have an appropriate venue in the area.  This offers the potential to reach a broad audience that will be directly proportionate to the variety of films, live music acts and educational events offered.


    •Why are we hiring out-of-town consultants and architects?

    We are working with a highly experienced team of consultants and architects who have successfully restored many historic theaters around the United States to their original grandeur. The team has all the specialties needed for modern theatre design with sensitivity and the preservation knowledge needed to restore the theatre back to pristine condition. The architectural firm of Westlake Reed Leskosky has been honored with more than 300 significant design awards in the last 25 years for work in historic preservation. The firm also has extensive experience in the process of applying for Historic Tax Credits which is vital to funding preservation projects like the Columbia. Westlake Reed Leskosky will be using the firm of Peck Flannery Gream Warren as local associate architects.


    •How much is this going to cost the city tax payers?

    Much of the funding for this project will be provided through grants, historic tax credits, contributions from the community, endowments, and individual seed money. The project will create a great economic development boost for Paducah creating skilled labor jobs throughout the restoration as well as creating on-going jobs for the subsequent operation of the facility.


    •What is the timeline for the project?

    Much of the timeline development will depend on results of a concept study being conducted currently. As of today our goal is to complete the pertinent studies and evaluations, begin cleanup of the theatre with volunteer labor, and have a restoration plan and timeline in place by the beginning of 2014.