The Story & Mission
We aim to continue on the path of historic preservation in order to restore the 1927 art palace as an economic driver, a tool in creative placemaking, a beacon to the importance of architectural history and a space for programming that will add to the offerings of Maiden Alley Cinema, the region’s only 501(c)3 non-profit cinematic art house.
The Columbia Theatre Restoration Project exists under Paducah Art House Alliance (PAHA), a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The purpose of the dedicated group of volunteers is to save the Columbia Theatre.
The Columbia Theatre is a beacon of grandeur unique to historic Paducah, providing diverse cultural experiences, sustaining economic vitality and inspiring creative endeavors across generations.
Maiden Alley Cinema (MAC) also exists under Paducah Art House Alliance (formerly Paducah Film Society) as a fully operational cinematic art house, offering film programming, live music, rental opportunities, community partnerships and educational outreach. It is also home to the River’s Edge International Film Festival, the Paducah 48 Hour Film Project and the Cinema Systers Film Festival. Through film and alternative programming MAC has successfully engaged an audience base that can no longer fit into a single demographic narrative. That has allowed and encouraged continued growth of the vision and mission.
Original Vision Statement for the Paducah Film Society
To become the leading regional arts organization dedicated to enhancing culture through film. To use film as a means to provide entertainment, promote visual literacy, create cross-cultural awareness and promote filmmaking as an art form.
The vision and mission remain the cornerstone of all programming at MAC, however time has demanded the reevaluation and reinvention of the space. To fully reach the potential of this programming model and what it could mean for the region we look to the Columbia Theatre. This partnership, between a successful one-screen non-profit art house cinema/music venue and a historic art palace (1927-1987), is a marriage that makes strategic sense. The distinct advantage of this mutually beneficial alliance partner an entity with knowledge and relationships in the film and music world with a historic venue that begs to offer extensive opportunities with an expanded space.
Maiden Alley Cinema
The Paducah Film Society, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, was founded in 1991 by a group of arts-minded individuals who saw a need for an outlet for foreign, independent and documentary film. For the first five years of operation, PFS screened one film per month, Sundays at the Cinema. As interest increased within the community, programming expanded to multiple screenings. While the space rented from Paducah’s Market House Theatre was adequate, there were limitations as to how often films could be presented due to the demand of the Market House’s live production programming. A new home was needed, and Maiden Alley Cinema was born in 2001. Since then, MAC has become one of the area’s leading arts organizations, bringing the art of film and alternative programming to a much wider audience.
Key points to always keep at the forefront of our minds while continuing this effort:
- This is a community-based initiative.
- The Columbia Theatre will be accessible and affordable to all socioeconomic levels.
- Paducah is known nationally as a mecca for the arts.
- As a UNESCO Creative City, we have unlimited potential for global partnerships.
- The non-profit arts sector in our region is ripe with programming; YET there is an array of untapped potential for new, innovative and unique offerings.
- The film world is constantly changing and growing and includes a huge cross-section of artists, filmmakers, educators, and innovators.
- Education is paramount for future funding and this document shall serve as an informational tool for the masses.
- From the sheer desire for the restoration to the long-term feasibility and sustainability to the forecasted financial stability, we must be accountable to all potential supporters and investors.
- A locally owned art house and a corporate movie theater are two completely different things with two completely differing operational models.
- The arts are a sustainable industry and are imperative to a well-rounded quality of life.
- Paducah is a very generous community and supports a wide range of philanthropic endeavors – there are a plethora of worthy causes in our community, but please remember that this is SO much more than just about an entertainment venue. There are a wealth of opportunities that will endorse educational outreach, community partnerships and economic growth for our community.
- The Columbia Theatre is the only historic theater left in McCracken county.
A highlight in 2016, the Reclaimed & Repurposed exhibition partnered with local artists, inviting them to utilize select relics from the Columbia Theatre. These items were to be the catalyst for original artwork and functional items. More than $5,000 was raised, but R&R created community awareness in a new segment of the population.
The Columbia Theatre and Maiden Alley Cinema also raised more than $12,000 with help from a local group, Cartel – Feeding Creativity, at BBQ on the River. This annual event draws a crowd of 40,000+ to downtown Paducah with the focus being competitive BBQing and raising money for non-profits! Consisting of local culinary and artistic leaders in the community, the Cartel originated as a group dedicated to raising money for important causes with the Columbia being their main focus.
While a capital campaign is imperative to the success of a project this large, the grassroots and community outreach initiatives will be, and are, vital as well.