Paonia's Paradise Theatre will be reopening this month with a schedule of music, special events and classic movies. The Paonia Chamber of Commerce and a group of interested citizens called the Friends of the Paradise Theatre (FoPT) will see that the operation of the 88-year-old theater continues through the end of the year.
As the former owners' lease expired, the Paonia Chamber of Commerce stepped in to assume the lease and keep the Paradise doors open.
"The theater not only directly supports many businesses by providing the space they need for programming and fundraising, but also supports our restaurants, lodging and stores on Grand Avenue. The Paradise attracts tourists to the area, and helps to keep the downtown vibrant with an open versus shut primary business. By keeping the theater open we are also supporting one of the venues that is at the heart of our new state Creative District designation. The chamber board sees this as an opportunity to support local commerce and downtown Paonia," says chamber president Alexis Halbert.
Members from Pickin' Productions, The Paonia Players, Green Lotus Events, KVNF, the Creative Coalition and the North Fork Heart & Soul Project worked diligently to come up with a plan and a schedule for the North Fork audiences. Program director Amy De Luca said, "The FoPT is a grassroots effort to save a cultural and historic stronghold of the North Fork Valley. I'm very excited about our events program coming this fall and all the support from our community partner organizations."
Here is a sneak peak of what's to come.
• Slow Food Western Slope will kick off the season with the fifth annual Food, Film, Farm & Wine Festival Aug. 16-18.
• Pickin Productions is bringing great music every Thursday in Paonia Town Park (with the theatre on hold in case of rain).
•Paonia Players are cooking up a North Fork version of The Dating Game.
• Local DJs and VJs will be laying down some dance music for a Save the Paradise fundraiser at the end of the month.
Further fall programming includes the Mountain Harvest Festival, The Strolling Scones musical and The Creative District 81428 "Alchemy" MultimediaART Show by the North Fork Valley Creative Coalition. Pickin Productions and Green Lotus Events will be bringing the valley a concert series ranging from bluegrass to soul, reggae to "indie," and also a classic film series called "Dinner and a Movie" presented by Green Lotus Events and the Paonia Chamber of Commerce.
In small towns across the country, maintaining a movie theater is a challenge. Movie prices, technology upgrades and a dwindling market for moviegoers have stifled the small-town business. Yet the theater is a definite asset to any town. It is a place where people gather and enjoy a common experience together; it is the heart and soul of any community. In Paonia, the showing of first-run movies has been supplemented with concerts, locally produced plays, and unique events like the District 81428 Fashion Show, the Paonia Players' kids productions and Craig Childs' "Dark Night."
Susie Kaldis, director of the North Fork Valley Creative District said, "We are a creative, resourceful, driven community. We believe that keeping the lights on and doors open of the Paradise Theatre as an events venue benefits not only the economy of Paonia, but also the quality of life for our community. As a newly certified Creative District, the North Fork Valley's arts and culture hinges on the ability of our creatives to express their art. The Paradise Theatre is an important space for us to do this. Many thanks go out to FoPT and the Paonia chamber for giving our community the gift of Paradise."
The theater building is still for sale and the Friends of the Paradise are looking at options to keep the tradition of movies and fine entertainment alive in the North Fork Valley. "Our success depends on the support of the community, so please keep your eye on the schedule and come on out to support your local theatre!" De Luca said.
For more information go to the Paradise of Paonia Facebook page and watch for dates and times of upcoming events.