Earlier this month, the Mayfair raised funds to purchase and restore New Brunswick’s Paramount Theatre, and those involved will learn March 31 if the theatre will return to its former glory.
Built in 1948, the Paramount was the pride of Atlantic Canada. In 2005, the theatre was sold to its current owner who plans to convert the space into a parking lot. Save the Paramount, led by Michael McDonald, has been paying the owner $2,700 a month to simply keep the theatre standing.
“It was a palace. It was one of those buildings that when you walked in, you knew you were going to an event and that’s what makes this place unique,” McDonald said. “Bringing the Paramount back is going to start an art and culture revolution in the city.”
He added that because of its location in King’s Square, buildings like the Paramount Theatre are the heartbeat of the community.
“If you take away the heart from a neighbourhood, the life blood of the area goes away. These are the buildings that define us . . . there are not many buildings like this left in the world,” McDonald said. “You can’t build community spirit around a parking lot.”
“How many St. Johners are in the crowd?” McDonald asked.
Most of the hands in the audience of around fifty people shot up into the air.
“One thing you find about Maritimers in Southern Ontario is that they care very deeply about what’s going on back home,” said Alex Willis, a friend of McDonald.
Jonathan VanAmburg, who was the coordinator of the event, said the $1,000 raised today wouldn’t be possible without the contribution of the filmmakers in New Brunswick.
“This is a model that the St. John crowd can build from. And it was just a marriage, a beautiful marriage, in bringing New Brunswick films to New Brunswickers in Ottawa to raise money for a place back home.”
Ten movies played at the charity event including Sistema Revolution and Gamers: A Love Story.
— Photo courtesy of Greg Hickman. With files from Shanzeh Ameen.