Belcourt Success Story

Belcourt Success Story

The Belcourt is thriving as Nashville’s nonprofit cinema. It is both a destination and an anchor in its Hillsboro Village neighborhood, with a regional and national reputation for quality programming, education and engagement work, and a strong mission-driven focus.

First opened in 1925 and established as a nonprofit in 1999, the Belcourt Theatre today is truly a Nashville success story.

The Belcourt today:

  • a leading Nashville cultural organization
  • financially stable with broad-based community support
  • nationally recognized as a leading independent film organization
  • 160,000+ attendees annually from throughout Middle Tennessee and the Southeast (including 44 states and five countries)
  • 4,700+ members
  • 2,600+ screenings annually
  • $5,897,100 annual economic impact*

Source: Americans for the Arts, Economic Impact Calculator, 2015

The Problem

The Problem

The Belcourt’s building is 90 years old. In almost constant use since 1925, it’s had no major refurbishment in over 50 years. Resources have been devoted to programming, exhibition, and education and engagement work—and audiences continue to grow each year. It is now time to meet the responsibilities of caring for the Belcourt’s aging structure.

The theatre’s historic gem, the 1925 Hall, needs preservation and restoration.

Restrooms. The Belcourt has too few—but even worse, they are inaccessible to patrons who use wheelchairs.

Due to its age, the building lacks key accessibility and safety features.

Nashville and Middle Tennessee are growing, and so are Belcourt audiences—particularly for the education and engagement potential in using film to teach visual literacy. The Belcourt's current space configuration simply cannot accommodate this growth.

The theatre's future requires that its building meets the needs of both current and future generations of film lovers—so the Belcourt can continue its role in a thriving city that embraces the arts.

The Solution

The Solution

The Belcourt Campaign is a pragmatic vision that both preserves the past and embraces the future. With a goal of $5 million, the campaign plan is practical and the budget is thoughtful. It will ensure that the Belcourt remains a treasured cultural gem in our changing city—within the same footprint, with design continuity and character, and with an unchanging, focused mission.  

Preserve the 1925 Hall. Restoration work on the original proscenium arch. Replace and secure the aging fly loft. Protect and secure the original staging.

Renovate to provide contemporary accessibility and safety features. Position the theatre’s entrance on-grade with the parking lot. Improve and expand restroom facilities significantly, including wheelchair accessibility. Replace dramatically outdated systems, such as HVAC, electrical and plumbing.

Accommodate growing film audiences and the needs of education and engagement programs with expanded lobby space, classroom space (2nd floor), and a small public screening room (2nd floor).

The Goal

$5 Million in Gifts and Pledges

Gifts and pledges to date: $4,223,000


  • TOTAL:

An Aging Building


(Click the dots to learn more.)

Emergency Exits


  • Preservation work to secure the building’s iconic arches.

Poster Cases

  • New cases for film posters.

Exterior Brick and Masonry

  • Repair as needed to secure areas that are damaged and need strengthening.


  • Parking lot capacity reduced by only 2-3 spaces (to accommodate new entrance).

1966 Addition Theatre (1966 Hall)

  • Capacity changes from 366 to 254 to allow for restroom and lobby expansion.
  • Upgrade overall exhibition experience with improved sound system and new screen.


  • Replace and upgrade aging cast iron plumbing systems.

Historic Theatre (1925 Hall) Stage

  • Protected and secured original stage decking.
  • Performances ranging from 1934 Grand Ole Opry artists to King Crimson and John Prine have happened on this stage.

Fly Loft

  • Replace and secure the aging fly loft.
  • This fly loft is one of the building’s structures that's in most need of care and tending.

Proscenium Arch

  • Restoration work on the original plaster proscenium arch around the stage.

Historic Theatre (1925 Hall)

  • Capacity will remain unchanged at 332.

Elevator and Stairs

  • Providing public accessibility to the 2nd floor.


  • Relocated to a more central position in the lobby.


  • A small, comfortable seating area in the lobby for pre- and post-film gatherings.

Light Lock Doors

  • Preventing light and sound disruptions from the lobby.
  • Installed in both halls.


  • Bigger and improved.
  • Fully wheelchair-accessible.


Expanded and more welcoming lobby, with added windows for both interior light and street activation all along our Belcourt Avenue frontage.

Box Office and Entrance

  • Relocated directly off the parking lot, providing convenience for all audiences and an entry from a flat surface for patrons with mobility devices.


(Click the dots to learn more.)

Exterior Brick and Masonry

  • Repair as needed to secure areas that are damaged and need strengthening.

Concessions Storage

Projection Booth (for 1966 Hall and Screening Room)

Projection booth serving the 1966 theatre will include a digital cinema projection system (DCP) and upgraded sound system. This booth will also serve the new small screening room.


Projection Booth (for 1925 Hall)

  • Projection booth will serve both the Belcourt's historic hall.
  • Booth will include digital cinema projection (DCP) systems for both spaces, and 35mm projection for the historic hall.


  • New accessible 2nd floor public restrooms.

Additional 2nd Floor Entrance/Exit

  • Currently, the Belcourt’s projection and administrative spaces have only one entrance/exit—a configuration that is far from contemporary safety standards.

Administrative Wing

  • New, much-needed work space for staff.
  • This second story addition is cantilevered over the parking lot to protect parking spaces.


  • A new room that provides space for learning and conversations around movies.
  • This important new space will dramatically increase the Belcourt’s ability to offer film education programs to learners of all ages.

Gathering Space

  • A new public space, ideal for pre- and post-screening gatherings.

Screening Room

  • A new small, flexible screening room with seating capacity of about 45.
  • Outfitted with a digital projection system, the room will be used for public screenings as well as Belcourt classes and education programs.
  • Also provides an ideal space for private screenings or test screenings for local filmmakers.

Elevator and Stairs

  • Providing public accessibility from the 1st floor to the 2nd.

Fly Loft Exterior

  • Replace the fly loft's rusted, pitted and corroding exterior.
  • Never noticed the fly loft's exterior? Look on the Belcourt's roof next time you're in the neighborhood.


  • Replace aging, inefficient and unreliable units and systems (that are increasingly expensive to repair and maintain).


Second Floor


Refurbishment and renovation plans are scheduled to take approximately five months. Based on current fundraising progress, we anticipate beginning this work in early 2016.

While under construction, the theatre will be closed. During this period, the Belcourt will collaborate with several community partners in varied locations to provide pop-up repertory film events.

Give to The Belcourt Campaign

The Belcourt is actively seeking major support from individuals, foundations and corporations
that seek to make a meaningful investment in this Nashville treasure. 

To discuss leadership gifts and pledges, and learn more
about naming opportunities, please contact:

Brooke Bernard, Development Director
615-846-3150 x21