The Bellingham Arts District is made up of a variety of fun venues, organizations and businesses that help fill our community with entertainment and color. Pickford Film Center’s Executive Director Susie Purves and Marketing Manager Lindsey Gerhard are proud of the neighborhood businesses. They enjoy sharing the area with innovative places like Make.Shift Art Space, Spark Museum, Bellingham Theatre Guild, Opus Performing Arts School, Wild Buffalo House of Music, The Upfront Theatre and the Sylvia Center for the Arts.
The Pickford has occupied its current space on Bay Street, near Woods Coffee and Mount Bakery, since 2011. Being a central part of the Bellingham Arts District, the Pickford played a role in the revitalization of the area and still contributes to encouraging downtown traffic and supporting the surrounding businesses. Over by the Limelight, moviegoers like to frequent Pure Bliss Desserts and Chocolate Necessities, for example.
Brandon Wicklund, the owner of The Real McCoy, said, “I’ve always loved Pickford Film Center and what they bring to our community. Now, being a business owner, I appreciate them even more! The Pickford has been a great neighbor to us. The collaboration on the ‘Hey Bartender’ event was a huge success and something patrons of ours still talk about to this day. Dinner and a movie can sometimes sound cliché but the Pickford offers up something more; community, culture and a passion for what they provide. It’s great to be one of the spots people frequent to dine before or after that experience.”
Carrie Cooper, the owner of The Temple Bar, said, “We love having the Pickford across the street from us! It brings all walks of life into the thriving Arts District, who often stop by our establishment to discuss the movie or event they just attended. We have a symbiotic relationship, for sure.”
The Pickford is known for its unique films, fun festivals and educational opportunities for students. However, like any non-profit organization, the film center must seek donations and support to keep things up and running. The theater also acts as a revenue generator for the city and downtown businesses and brings awareness to how important it is to support the arts.
In 2016, Pickford Film Center sold 90,000 tickets. That’s 90,000 extra people on the streets of Bellingham that might not otherwise be there without the theater. “People don’t go home right after a show,” says Purves. Movies are often paired with dinner, ice cream, a quick beer, a stroll around the block and more. “(Movie goers) are paying for dinner and drinks. They are probably meeting other people who are doing the same thing.”
It is also worth mentioning that as an independent cinema, the Pickford promotes local food and beverages by making them available at their concession stand. The majority of their beer is local, which is important, Gerhard explains, “Especially in a town where everyone loves micro brews.” The option to have a beer or a glass of wine and see a movie is relatively new as of 2013. Gerhard says, “For some, it’s just right. A film might pair perfectly with a glass of Chardonnay.”
During the summer months, the Pickford puts on a film series on the rooftop of the parkade on the 1300 block of Commercial Street. Gerhard explains, “Rooftop Cinema brings a lot of business to that area as well. Plus it’s a way to inform our patrons that the parkade is a place where you can park for free in evenings and on the weekend when you come to see a movie.” Knowing that you can go straight to the parkade reduces the amount of time you spend looking for a space when you are enjoying downtown Bellingham.
Doctober is another seasonal event, which celebrates the art of the documentary the entire month of October. “People come early. Bellingham has a real breakfast culture and I think (Doctober) plays into it,” Purves says. “There is movie activity from 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.”
To find out what is playing at Pickford Film Center, visit their website or stop by the theater. Their windows are always filled with fun posters of local events and their upcoming shows. You can also reach the box office by phone at 360-738-0735.