Time flies when one is having fun, and the Tull Family Theater is no exception.
The theater celebrated its one-year anniversary in the Sewickley community on Feb. 17 by launching a myriad of new programming and events.
The $4 million, non-profit theater has sold nearly 32,000 tickets in its first year, including admission to new release movies, indie/foreign films, documentaries and classics, according to data from the theater.
In its first year, the theater hosted two festivals that featured work from local, as well as international, filmmakers.
Perhaps the biggest accomplishment was the theater’s ability to connect with the communities in which it serves. Low sensory screenings were pioneered at the theater, allowing children and families with special needs – such as autism – to attend shows.
Outreach programming was offered to 360 youths, as well as free events promoting music, dance, visual arts and theater.
“The Tull Theater has been both welcoming and accommodating to the groups of kids I bring to their facility,” said Floyd Faulkner, of the community youth work, which is part of Quaker Valley School District. “The kids not only enjoy the movies that the theater brings to town, but they enjoy the hospitality of the staff and the way that they make them feel valued.”
Faulker added that the theater showed a strong willingness to employ local youths, offering jobs to four students who he encouraged to apply.
The theater plans to continue its community involvement by expanding programming that is supported by individual donors, patrons, corporations, foundations, public support and operational revenues. The theater will host “Science on Screen” — a program that leads STEM leaders to fuel an interest in science, medical, math and technical topics.
Classic Tuesdays and Encore Wednesdays will add a daytime showing of popular, sell-out shows that are typically screened on the second Tuesday of the month. Cultural screenings will focus on artists, Broadway and London stage plays and operas.
Carolina Pais-Barreto Thor, executive director of the Tull Family Theater, said she understands the facility has quickly become a staple in the community, which factored heavily in the decision to add new programming.
“Patrons tell us all the time how quickly the theater has become interwoven with their lives, from seniors with limited transportation options, to school groups and memory-making outreach programming for children” Thor said. “We are grateful for the support of thousands who attended films, donated and shared their enthusiasm for the Tull Family Theater. We look forward to following this action-packed year of firsts with the enhanced programming and broadened partnerships that our second year will bring.”
Christina Sheleheda is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.