Mayfair joins movement to save New Brunswick’s Paramount Theatre

The charity matinee New Brunswick Films for a New Brunswick Theatre was held at the Mayfair Theatre in Ottawa on March 3. Patrons paid $20 to watch ten New Brunswick films, all of which went towards helping raise funds to purchase and restore the Paramount Theatre in St John, New Brunswick.

The ten movies were of a wide variety of genres, ranging from Greg Hemming’s documentary “Sistema Revolution” about Venezuela’s revolutionary children’s music program and its implementation in New Brunswick, to Britany Sparrow’s fantasy film “Gamers: A Love Story.”

“The movies are definitely well done, entertaining, and a good mix of different types of films as well,” said attendee Shawn Joseph. “I appreciate the focus on the value of the arts in general, especially in community building. I support any attempt to maintain a heritage building and a sense of history around going to the movies used to be.”

“It’s great to see some New Brunswick films on screen for a change,” says attendant Rachel Sebold.

Jonathan VanAmburg, a St Johnner living in Ottawa, was the coordinator of the event. He saw the short documentary “Save the Paramount” directed by Greg Hemmings, featuring Michael McDonald, the unofficial spokesperson for the Save the Paramount movement, at the 2011 New Brunswick Film Festival.

“Today wouldn’t be possible without the contribution of the filmmakers back in New Brunswick,” said VanAmburg.

 “I love these films, and I love the Mayfair theatre in Ottawa. It’s an independently run theatre that plays movies that you won’t see anywhere else. 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.”

“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, writer and friend of McDonald.

“How many St Johners are in the crowd?” Michael McDonald crooned into the microphone from centre stage. Most of the hands of the audience shot up into the air. 

McDonald is an activist, writer, filmmaker, from St. John, New Brunswick. Sold in 2005, the current owner intends to convert it into a parking lot. He hopes to turn the Paramount into a three space performing art centre with a café. The Paramount is in the centre of the city, Kings Square, which he believes is the perfect environment for an arts and culture centre.

According to the documentary “Save the Paramount,” the Paramount Theatre was the pride of Atlantic Canada.

“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,” said McDonald over shots of decrepit stairs, intricately detailed banisters, and high ceilings.

“Coming to the Mayfair Theatre, or how the Paramount is for St Johners, changes the movie we’re going to watch and how we’re going to experience it. It turns movies from something you just look at to something you are a part of,” said said Jason Grenia, a film student who was present at the event.

 “Bringing the Paramount back is going to start an art and culture revolution in the city of St John,” said McDonald.

Save the Paramount and Uptown St John are paying the owner $2, 700 a month to keep the building standing, according to Willi’s recent blog post (http://skeining.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/save-the-paramount/#more-590).

“It’s time for my board to make a decision as to whether or not they are going to continue to put money into the process to repurpose to building,” said Peter Asimakos, General Manager of Uptown St John, to CBC News. “The area is quite under-developed and is actually in state of decay in some respect. We are hoping with a project like this, it would act as a catalyst to turning this around and make St John’s uptown vibrant, as it once was.”

“These buildings are the heartbeat of the community,” said McDonald. “If you take away the heart from a neighbourhood, the life blood of the area goes away. These are the buildings that define us, that raised us all. There are not many buildings like this left in the world.”

“The event was a success, with a few thousand dollars raised,” said Willis. McDonald and Hemmings are currently working on a larger documentary with the CBC. McDonald and Hemings screenings of “Save the Paramount” in various communities in North America have been well received.

 “Our vision for the uptown is bigger than a parking lot,” said McDonald. “You can’t build a community spirit around a parking lot.”

To contribute, visit http://uptownsj.com/uptownsj/5622/Save-the-Paramount

Mayfair joins movement to save New Brunswick’s Paramount Theatre

The charity matinee New Brunswick Films for a New Brunswick Theatre was held at the Mayfair Theatre in Ottawa on March 3. Patrons paid $20 to watch ten New Brunswick films, all of which went towards helping raise funds to purchase and restore the Paramount Theatre in St John, New Brunswick.

The ten movies were of a wide variety of genres, ranging from Greg Hemming’s documentary “Sistema Revolution” about Venezuela’s revolutionary children’s music program and its implementation in New Brunswick, to Britany Sparrow’s fantasy film “Gamers: A Love Story.”

“The movies are definitely well done, entertaining, and a good mix of different types of films as well,” said attendee Shawn Joseph. “I appreciate the focus on the value of the arts in general, especially in community building. I support any attempt to maintain a heritage building and a sense of history around going to the movies used to be.”

“It’s great to see some New Brunswick films on screen for a change,” says attendant Rachel Sebold.

Jonathan VanAmburg, a St Johnner living in Ottawa, was the coordinator of the event. He saw the short documentary “Save the Paramount” directed by Greg Hemmings, featuring Michael McDonald, the unofficial spokesperson for the Save the Paramount movement, at the 2011 New Brunswick Film Festival.

“Today wouldn’t be possible without the contribution of the filmmakers back in New Brunswick,” said VanAmburg.

 “I love these films, and I love the Mayfair theatre in Ottawa. It’s an independently run theatre that plays movies that you won’t see anywhere else. 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.”

“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, writer and friend of McDonald.

“How many St Johners are in the crowd?” Michael McDonald crooned into the microphone from centre stage. Most of the hands of the audience shot up into the air. 

McDonald is an activist, writer, filmmaker, from St. John, New Brunswick. Sold in 2005, the current owner intends to convert it into a parking lot. He hopes to turn the Paramount into a three space performing art centre with a café. The Paramount is in the centre of the city, Kings Square, which he believes is the perfect environment for an arts and culture centre.

According to the documentary “Save the Paramount,” the Paramount Theatre was the pride of Atlantic Canada.

“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,” said McDonald over shots of decrepit stairs, intricately detailed banisters, and high ceilings.

“Coming to the Mayfair Theatre, or how the Paramount is for St Johners, changes the movie we’re going to watch and how we’re going to experience it. It turns movies from something you just look at to something you are a part of,” said said Jason Grenia, a film student who was present at the event.

 “Bringing the Paramount back is going to start an art and culture revolution in the city of St John,” said McDonald.

Save the Paramount and Uptown St John are paying the owner $2, 700 a month to keep the building standing, according to Willi’s recent blog post (http://skeining.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/save-the-paramount/#more-590).

“It’s time for my board to make a decision as to whether or not they are going to continue to put money into the process to repurpose to building,” said Peter Asimakos, General Manager of Uptown St John, to CBC News. “The area is quite under-developed and is actually in state of decay in some respect. We are hoping with a project like this, it would act as a catalyst to turning this around and make St John’s uptown vibrant, as it once was.”

“These buildings are the heartbeat of the community,” said McDonald. “If you take away the heart from a neighbourhood, the life blood of the area goes away. These are the buildings that define us, that raised us all. There are not many buildings like this left in the world.”

“The event was a success, with a few thousand dollars raised,” said Willis. McDonald and Hemmings are currently working on a larger documentary with the CBC. McDonald and Hemings screenings of “Save the Paramount” in various communities in North America have been well received.

 “Our vision for the uptown is bigger than a parking lot,” said McDonald. “You can’t build a community spirit around a parking lot.”

To contribute, visit http://uptownsj.com/uptownsj/5622/Save-the-Paramount

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