Mount Baker Theatre turns 90 years old on Saturday, April 29, 2017, and two events mark this historic milestone. The first occurs on the actual 90th anniversary of opening night, Saturday, April 29. Some of MBT’s most ardent supports will gather to say “Cheers to 90 Years” at a dinner on the Main Stage. The second event is a free community open house and birthday party on May 5 starting at 3pm.
“Cheers to 90 Years” Event April 29
Those passionate about preserving Mount Baker Theatre as a local hub for live performing arts and a major historical Bellingham landmark are invited to inquire about tickets for this intimate celebration. The fundraising event features dinner, speaker presentations, and a short concert by award-winning Canadian pianist Michael Kaeshammer. The Mount Baker Theatre is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and relies on its valued community partners for continued success. Tickets are $100 each and available through the MBT Box Office at 360-734-6080.
Open House and Birthday Party May 5
Mount Baker Theatre invites the community to celebrate 90 years of the beloved downtown landmark at a free event, May 5, 2017. This open house and birthday party begins at 3pm, and attendees can expect birthday cake, beverages, historical information from tour docents, two screenings of a video project about MBT’s history from local muralist Lanny Little (3p & 4p), and a short public presentation by local dignitaries (4:45p). The event is free of charge and does not require advance reservations. Stay downtown for dinner and then enjoy the Children’s Art Walk that formally begins at 6pm. Mount Baker Theatre will be hosting two elementary choirs in the Encore Room, and the building will stay open for tours until 8pm that evening.
Mount Baker Theatre opened on April 29, 1927. The true birthday gift of this 90 year milestone is that what began as a luxe movie palace in 1927 has evolved to become a thriving performing arts center in Bellingham’s downtown Arts District.
Currently, MBT hosts over 110,000 people in more than 400 annual events across its three venues, but in the ‘80s MBT was slated for demolition. In a great example of civic partnership between city, county, and community, a new structure emerged: the city-owned facility is managed by the Mount Baker Theatre Corporation, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization. That ‘80s wrecking ball was set aside to make room for a gorgeous restoration and repurpose of existing spaces done in phases to arrive at the gem of a building we see today.
The building gives our community access. Through the touring performances MBT presents, patrons can experience world-class entertainment without having to travel to New York, or even Seattle. The Wade Bennett King Education Series hosts over 16,000 school-aged children annually, with professional programming aimed to inspire while augmenting topics studied in more traditional school settings. Commercial renters bring famous acts, festivals, and their attendees into the building and the town.
“Access” is not limited to entertainment from afar, but to the building itself as a world-class facility for local presenters. Our professionally-managed historic stage hosts the little feet of local dance students, the “walks” of various college graduates, and well-heeled speakers from various civic and community groups. From ski films to local authors, the stunning theatrical setting can make local events “big.”
But Mount Baker Theatre is more than events with tickets. The community spaces act as an anchor for downtown Bellingham’s arts district. Performances, rehearsals, keynote speakers, meetings, and more happen on the Main Stage, in the “black box” Walton Theatre, and in the 1,200-square foot Encore Room. Many community arts nonprofits take advantage of the program that allows free use of the Encore room. There is usually something happening in the building in addition to our all-audience ticketed shows.
The Mount Baker Theatre, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization supporting the performing arts, receives support from a Tourism Facilities Grant from the City of Bellingham.