The dress rehearsal of our new Bijou by the Bay theater continues this weekend with four of Alfred Hitchcock's best thrillers: "Psycho," "Rear Window," "The Birds," and "North by Northwest." Thanks to all who came to see "Gone with the Wind" last weekend. Next week, it's "Casablanca" at the Bijou! All seats are five bucks, and your presence is giving us a chance to try out, tweak, and perfect our new 21st century theater housed inside a Roosevelt-era building.
Of course, all of this is leading up to our huge GRAND COMMUNITY CELEBRATION AND OPEN HOUSE, a seven-day extravaganza to introduce this amazing theater to all of the people of northern Michigan. And then, on Thanksgiving weekend, we'll begin showing big, first run movies (with no restrictions), year-round.
To get to that day when we open our doors and christen TC's new movie house -- our second in just six years! -- we are going to need your help once again. Let me speak honestly about our situation.
When we first approached the City of Traverse City and offered to save and restore the Con Foster building in Clinch Park, and to operate it as a nonprofit movie house at no charge to the City, everyone was excited about the possibilities of enhancing one of the country's most beautiful Bayfront parks with all the expertise and success we've brought to the State Theatre and downtown TC. The Bijou by the Bay would be our gift to our fellow residents of northern Michigan (and when I say "our gift," I mean it's also a gift from all 3,000 of you who make up the Friends of the TCFF).
But what we didn't know was how hard -- and expensive -- it was going to be to turn this Depression-era building into a modern 21st century movie theater. Everything had rotted and nothing worked. It had asbestos. It needed a new roof. It needed electrical, plumbing, heating, cooling, restroom facilities, flooring, windows -- you name it, it all had to be torn up, rebuilt to modern code, and made safe and energy efficient.
And then came the most recent delays that had nothing to do with us (see: American Politics, 1789-2013, ibid.).
To the point, these things have nearly doubled our original estimation of the project's cost. But we were committed to cutting no corners and building a theater that meets the same high standards we've established at the State Theatre. And thanks to the success of the State, we were charged the normal going rate for equipment and services. (When we restored the State, much of the labor and gear -- like the three projectors -- was donated. Understandably, not this time.)
So I am currently looking for a few large or semi-large donors to join with me in completing this wonderful project and opening a debt-free Bijou! We have one month. If you can step forward right now, then THIS is the time to join me and Richard and Diana Milock -- who have offered a $100,000 matching donation -- and the other Founders of the project's initial phase: the Mahogany Foundation/Daniel and Meredith Falconer, the Community Foundation/Bruce and Julie Falconer, the Herrington-Fitch Family Foundation, and two anonymous donors.
I need you, the Bijou needs you, and this community will abundantly thank you for your generosity. Your name will be permanently placed in the lobby of the theater. Your donation is 100% tax deductible. I will take you out for a walk and dinner! Don't turn me down! I walk slow!
For those of you who can't write "the big check," would you please consider sponsoring a seat at the Bijou? We'll put a plaque with your name (or the name of a loved one you'd like to honor) on the back of a seat and we'll invite you to our special "seat donors" event before the Grand Community Celebration Week. You can sponsor a seat for a $1,000 tax-deductible donation. You can go in with another person on the seat, or you can buy more than one seat.
We also have other ways you can help: you can sponsor a brick for $500 and in the spring when the outdoor landscaping goes in, your name will be on a brick right outside the theater in the entrance plaza. Or you can make a donation in ANY amount to the cause -- $10, $25, $50... every donation counts. We wouldn't ask if we didn't need to ask. You've come through for us before, and we're counting on your help again.
Thanks for listening. The Bijou is most certainly one of the finer additions to northern Michigan, and will bring enjoyment and entertainment to all who call this area home and to those who visit us from afar.
Traverse City Film Festival
233 E Front Street | Traverse City, MI 49684