by Mark Van Streefkerk
Columbia City’s newest indie movie theater is back! Since halting almost all public screenings last March, The Beacon Cinema reopens tonight with a screening of The New Corporation at 7 p.m. 100% of ticket proceeds will go to the Kshama Solidarity campaign to fight the right-wing recall of socialist City Councilmember Kshama Sawant. The Beacon will also debut a remodeled and freshly repainted lobby and an even more focused lineup of film offerings.
Co-founders and co-owners Tommy Swenson and Casey Moore officially opened The Beacon in July of 2019 at 4405 Rainier Ave South, at what was once an office space with an adjoining yoga studio. Swenson and Moore are both cinephiles with roots in the University District of the 1990s, a time and place rife with cinema culture, including a handful of indie theaters, Scarecrow Video, and the now-closed Cinema Books. Before opening The Beacon, Swenson had been the film programmer for a local theater chain in Austin, Texas, and Moore had established his own film marketing firm, High Council. Swenson and Moore launched The Beacon as an opportunity to screen arthouse, rare, and cult films and as a complimentary theater to Columbia City’s historic Ark Lodge Cinemas.
After The Beacon’s official debut in 2019, it was only about eight months before the theater was forced to temporarily close due to the pandemic. “Looking back now, those first eight months were a great testing ground to begin to get a sense of what works for us, who our audience is, and what our programming can look like,” Swenson said.
Continue reading The Beacon Cinema Reopens Tonight With a Kshama Solidarity Fundraiser
by M. Anthony Davis
The West Hill Community Association has an extensive history of advocacy and community service in the communities of Skyway and Unincorporated King County. Their weekly event, Skyway Outdoor Cinema, which hosts outdoor movies on a 20-foot screen every Friday in August, has been a staple in Skyway every summer since 2003.
Devin Chicras, a West Hill Community Association board member since 2014 (and president of the South Seattle Emerald board), has been actively involved in the Skyway Outdoor Cinema since 2013. At that time, the organization was discussing whether to shut the cinema down due to lack of volunteers and declining community attendance. Knowing how valuable the event was to the community, Chicras stepped up to ensure the outdoor cinema continued.
“Myself and my partner, Mary Goebel, decided that it was something too valuable to the community to just let it just discontinue,” Chicras says. “So we jumped in and, having no real event-planning experience, learned everything from the ground up, from getting vendors to buying AV equipment. We bought all of our own equipment after doing an Indiegogo campaign.”
Continue reading Skyway Outdoor Cinema Adjusts to Bring Community Together
by Mark Van Streefkerk
Ark Lodge Cinemas, Columbia City’s movie theater, launched a GoFundMe on September 19 with the goal of raising $750,000. It’s an ambitious first step in the Ark owner David McRae’s long-term hope of raising $3 million overall, enough to buy the almost 100-year-old Masonic building and securing the theater as the “Gem of Columbia City” for years to come. In addition to the GoFundMe, the Ark launched a capital campaign to attract bigger investors, with rewards ranging from limited edition T-shirts to opportunities to rename the Ark’s screening rooms. In almost two weeks, the GoFundMe has raised close to $40,000, and at least one of the capital campaign rewards has been claimed.
Continue reading Ark Lodge Cinemas GoFundMe Asks for Community Support To Become “The Gem Of Columbia City”