Can we afford to lose Vancouver's historic Hollywood Theatre?

Although our city is one of the youngest urban centres on our continent, we have some incredible pieces of multi-generational history.

As the oldest family-run theatre in North America, an evening at The Hollywood has always felt nostalgic. The excitement began while waiting in line to buy a ticket. My mitten-clad hands held onto my mothers coat as I listened to the buzzing murmur of conversations lingering in the cold damp Vancouver air. When we entered, the warmth wrapped around me with the smell of fresh popcorn. The deep red velvet curtains made me feel like we were going back in time. My favourite moments were when everyone laughed together during the films. There is something really amazing about laughing together.

The current plan is to turn the Hollywood Theatre into a two-story fitness centre. There has been some discussion about protecting some of the exterior while gutting out the interior. 

On November 20th, the Georgia Straight's Charles Campbell captured the story of a community meeting where hundreds of citizens gathered to focus on coming up with tangible solutions.

At this meeting, the overflowing room of local citizens listened to numerous speakers, including Vancouver Symphony Orchestra music director Bramwell Tovey, who told the crowd that he’s embarrassed as a world traveller by our inability to protect our history but “remains confident that we can turn the city into an entirely glass mausoleum”.

In a more recent update, there has also been support expressed by the Director of the Vancouver Film Festival, Alan Franey. He confirmed that “if the Hollywood can be kept viable as a movie theatre, the Vancouver Film Festival would be keen to utilize it”. Franey also suspects some of the many other film festivals in the city would be too.

Photo by Silmara Albi 

On November 22, an audience filled the Hollywood Theatre to watch the last 35 mm copy of Frank Capra's 1938 "You Can't Take it With You". The Projection Project joined forces with the Church at the Hollywood's Sarah Kift, film critic Michael van den Bos, Projectionist Chris Unwin, sound engineer Ian McLeod and a small army of dedicated volunteers. 

The support for the Hollywood Theatre is strong and diverse. As a result of these community meetings and outpouring of support, there have been several groups offering to purchase the theatre for the sake of historical preservation. The biggest challenge is getting the City of Vancouver to support this initiative and help convince the owners to rethink their current plans.

If you want to protect this historical landmark, you can make a big difference by engaging in any of the following actions:

1) Sign the petition for Mayor Gregor Robertson to save the Hollywood Theatre interior and exterior and maintain it as a community and cultural space.

2) Come out to Vancouver City Hall today, Wednesday Dec. 4. Get on the speaker’s list for this meeting; and call your friends, family and fellow supporters of the Hollywood. Encourage them to also get on the speaker’s list.

Register to speak by contacting Tina Hildebrandt, Meeting Coordinator. Call 604.873.7268 or register by email - [email protected]

For more information, you can watch the video below and visit this website: http://savethehollywoodtheatre.wordpress.com/

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