The Denton Square’s historic Fine Arts Theatre — which has sat vacant for over four years — will be restored into an entertainment venue under a new partnership of several Texas entities.
Some of the partners involved in the project include Aviation Cinemas, Talented Friends and Brad Andrus and Alex Payne from Axis Realty, according to a press release.
“The Fine Arts Theatre has been something we’ve wanted to be a part of for many years, even before I moved from Denton to Oak Cliff and became involved with the Texas Theatre,” said Jason Reimer, creative director of Aviation Cinemas.
According to the Denton Record Chronicle, Keitha and Glen McBride had been trying to sell the theater since fall 2017. Though they are thankful for the recent buy, they said they are also disheartened to let it go.
“The sale of the Fine Arts Theater is bittersweet,” Keitha said. “We were honored to own such an iconic site where we were born and raised. We are confident in the new ownership of the timeless theater.”
The restoration partnership was crafted when Andrus and Payne met with Reimer — founder of Talent Friends and co-partner of Aviation Cinemas — to restore the theatre and make it into a viable area for both entertainment and recreation.
Their plan is to restore the theatre for multi-use purposes. Martin Iles, the artist behind the Good/Bad Art Collective project and now head artist on the restoration design of the Fine Arts Theatre, wants the theater to be a place for Denton community’s use.
“I would imagine maybe on a Saturday night, an industrial band playing music to an Italian horror film; on Sunday, an African-American church renting the space and using it; on Monday, and experimental animation group having meetings; on Tuesday, exchange student from India screening a Bollywood film; on Wednesday, a country and western band from Sanger playing,” Iles told KERA. “That’s what my dream is.”
Although Andrus and Payne are rather new to this type of venture, Reimer and Barak Epstein are veterans to the theater world, having been behind the restoration and operation of the Texas Theater in Dallas for about eight years.
“The fact that they have operated a similar theater in Dallas successfully for several years gives us great confidence that they will make the Fine Arts Theater an asset for the community of Denton,” Payne said in the release.
Because the Fine Arts Theatre was built in 1877 as an opera house, then converted into a theatre in 1935 and closed in 1982 due to a fire, restoring the venue will take some time.
“I mean, it’s definitely in a stage where we need to fix it soon,” Reimer told KERA radio. “So, we’re really, really excited that we are able to figure something out before it got any worse.”
The owners are intending to keep the integrity of the building, but update the structure with some new technology including 35mm and 70mm film projection and a new lighting and sound system. The estimated time for the theater to reopen is 2020.
Featured Image: The Fine Arts Theatre in the Denton square will undergo restoration to support live performances and digital cinema. The theater was opened in 1935 under the name The Texas Theatre. Anna Engelland