Best way to support Modesto's State Theatre? Buy tickets

columns@modbee.comJune 10, 2013 

BR State Theater

The State Theatre in downtown Modesto, Calif. September 17, 2009. (BRIAN RAMSAY/bramsay@modbee.com)

BRIAN RAMSAY — Modesto Bee

— Summer is a good time for movies. Here in Modesto, theaters are wonderful for escaping the heat, especially when it gets over 100 degrees.

Two theaters in Modesto show the latest releases. A third, The State Theatre, has a unique place in Modesto’s history.

Since 1934, The State has entertained Modesto audiences with movies and events. Among the eight movie theaters in the city’s early days, The State is the only one left. Its programs provided many Modesto residents with their first exposure to movies. Some have gone on to prominence in the film industry.

This is what makes The State Theatre stand out:

• Its selections: The State shows the latest art-house or independent films. It also shows classics films such as “Gone With the Wind” and “The Wizard of Oz.”

A few films of its selections are important to the city’s history. George Lucas’ “American Graffiti” showed the week before Graffiti Fest.

Many of the classic films are screened by the Modesto Film Society, based at The State. The organization meets twice a month, the third Sunday and first Tuesday. The Sunday screenings are accompanied by activities such as trivia contests. The Tuesday screenings are followed by discussions. These screenings have educated and entertained filmgoers by giving them the chance to see these films the way they were intended to be seen.

• Fund-raisers: The State holds events for area nonprofit organizations. Among them is the Shadowchase Running Club, which holds an annual movie night before the Modesto Marathon. Another was a food drive by the United Samaritans Foundation during the April screenings of the documentary “A Place At the Table.” These events give much-needed exposure for their causes.

• Special events: The State has sales, concerts and stand-up comic acts. There is a singles mixer, called Singles Mingle, at least once a month. Individuals and groups can reserve the theater for special occasions.

It builds events around film screenings. There are parties, such as the Gatsby Speakeasy, a ’20s themed party for the May showing of the 1974 film “The Great Gatsby.” There are also guest speakers, usually filmmakers or other noted individuals.

In November, the theater debuted its new digital sound system. To celebrate, it offered free matinees during Thanksgiving week.

• Educational programs: The State is one of the most active supporters of local arts. The State Theatre Youth Educational Program provides at-risk students with free arts education. During the school year, it serves 8,000 students. Another program is Strut Studio of Dance.

You can support The State in several ways, including becoming a volunteer or making a donation. Overall, the best way to support The State is to attend its events. If you haven’t been for awhile, it’s time to pick a film and check out the new sound system.

Boyer is a Modesto resident. Send questions or comments to columns@modbee.com.

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