The red-carpet occasion, celebrating 100-plus years of movie history, shined a spotlight on the rare 1915 Italian Renaissance and Beaux-Arts-style movie palace, which has just undergone an $18.2 million renewal bringing it into the 21st century.
Located in Baltimore’s Station North Arts and Entertainment District, the rescued Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway will serve as home for the Maryland Film Festival (MdFF), owner and operator of the theater. Festival founding director Jed Dietz said the facility will be a year-round cultural anchor for Baltimore’s growing film community, connecting film, filmmakers and audiences. The Parkway will provide Baltimore with curated, bold programming not currently available in the region, and host film classes for students from the Johns Hopkins University, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and public and private schools throughout the greater Baltimore area.
The Parkway has stood as a movie theater at the corner of Charles and North for more than a century, and showed Baltimore cinema-lovers thousands of films from the silent era into the 1970s. The historic movie palace reopens to the public on May 3rd to host the 19th annual Maryland Film Festival, and begins commercial programming year-round on May 12th. The Parkway includes a beautifully reclaimed 414-seat theater for film and other special events, two smaller 84-seat theaters with adjacent lounges, a café, bar and locally sourced concessions. Patrons will enjoy state-of-the-art projection and sound in each theater.
For A FIRST LOOK, the theater was brimming with local and international dignitaries, including David Simon, the creator of HBO’s Baltimore-based series The Wire.
Director John Waters emceed the evening and spoke about making films in Baltimore and the importance of the city as an inspiration for and backdrop to his work.
Dietz said the Parkway is the perfect permanent home of MdFF and thanked the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, other donors and Maryland Film Festival partners for making it a reality.
“We’re proud to open the Parkway and greatly expand movie-going options in the Baltimore region,” he said. “The event is a celebration of this spectacular historic movie theater and of the incredible public and private coalition that has made it possible. We’re grateful for the commitment of our generous donors, partners and supporters. We can’t wait to open the Maryland Film Festival on May 3rd inside the Parkway.”
Dietz recognized the generous $5 million lead gift from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, key support from the State of Maryland, additional important donations from foundations, corporations and individuals, and the special partnerships in place with both MICA and Johns Hopkins.
"The Parkway represents an important opportunity to enhance Baltimore’s developing role as a creative hub, and will bring a landmark back to the community," said Andreas Dracopoulos, Co-President of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. "We are proud to support this historic renovation project, alongside three of the city’s most venerable institutions - Johns Hopkins University, the Maryland Institute College of Art, and the Maryland Film Festival. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation looks forward to witnessing the power of urban renewal through the Parkway’s film, music and educational programming which is sure to bring further revitalization to the historic city of Baltimore."
President Ronald J. Daniels of Johns Hopkins said that, in rescuing the Parkway, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the Maryland Film Festival, MICA, the university and other partners were helping to realize the city’s vision for Station North.
“Bringing the Parkway back to life is a once-in-a-generation moment to reclaim a part of Baltimore's storied cultural history and transform it into the heart of our community's vibrant, dynamic future,” Daniels said. “It is a thrilling moment for the arts in Baltimore, and their role in creating optimism and opportunity – both economic and artistic – for JHU and MICA students, our neighbors, and our city.”
"The reincarnated Parkway is a stunning new architectural icon for Baltimore that honors history with its imaginative preservation while proclaiming the future with its state-of-the-art elements,” stated President Samuel Hoi of Maryland Institute College of Art. “This idea—respecting the past while forging ahead—is very much a part of MICA’s ethos. Parkway’s three-way partnership—bringing together the Johns Hopkins University, Maryland Film Festival, and MICA—also reflects MICA’s fundamental commitment to collaboration. I, too, am very excited by the reopening of the Parkway. Our city is gaining a cultural beacon and our students, making films right across the street, will be even more inspired to be in Baltimore."