Finding summer fun for the whole family is as easy as driving into the parking lot of the Coppell Arts Center. Every Saturday night through Aug. 22, the art center’s parking lot transforms into a drive-in movie theater. “It’s definitely a nostalgic feeling,” Tiffany Anderson, Community Engagement Manager at Coppell Parks and Recreation, said.
The drive-in movies series is a partnership between the Coppell Arts Center and Coppell Parks and Recreation. “We were looking for a way to engage the community,” Anderson said. “When we realized we were both looking at a drive-in movie theatre, we decided to partner together.”
Alex Hargis, Coppell Arts Center’s Managing Director, joked the center should have built a bigger parking lot. “Who would have thought? That wasn’t part of the original business plan!” he said. The arts center was scheduled to celebrate its grand opening in mid-May. The coronavirus pandemic changed those plans.
While the arts center’s exterior and parking lot is complete and provides an ideal setting for the drive-in movie theater, the interior of the building still needs some finishing touches. “A lot of that wood is coming from up north,” Hargis said. “The supply chain has been restored, but it did cause delays. It will be installed in July.”
When the grand opening is rescheduled, the event will reflect a new reality for the arts industry. “It will be more focused on celebrating local groups so we can have flexibility with social distance requirements,” Hargis said.
Coppell Arts Center was designed to welcome touring productions, many of which have been postponed or canceled. The pandemic has shifted the center’s programming priorities. “The biggest change is creating an opportunity for collaboration locally. It comes down to what kind of world premieres and small intimate events we can do here and maintain that pulse within the community,” Hargis said. “It’s forcing us and venues of our size and even larger to rethink how we connect to our community and how we can be flexible with our work.”
The drive-in movie theater is a safe way to introduce the public to the arts center before the facility opens its doors. “We want to present the safest kind of event possible,” Anderson said. “The beauty of the drive-in movie theater is you don’t have to get out of the car. You can spend time with your family and enjoy some entertainment too.”
Staff members are wearing masks and gloves and no-contact prepackaged popcorn and water are available to purchase online and on-site. As part of the City of Coppell’s #BeVocalShopLocal campaign, moviegoers are encouraged pick up to-go meals from some of Coppell’s favorite restaurants. Drive-in meals and deals from Coppell restaurants will be offered on movie nights and promoted on Coppell Arts Center’s social media platforms.
Initially, only 50 spots were offered for each movie night. “We set that limit so everyone could have a good view with no obstruction,” Anderson said. “We decided after the first weekend, we could sell extra spaces without obstructing anyone’s view.”
The movies are a mix of family-friendly classics and modern favorites including E.T., Back to the Future, Lion King and Grease. “We want to recreate that classic drive-in movie theater experience,” Anderson said. “We want to have something for everyone.”
Gates open at 7:30 p.m. with the featured movies beginning at 8:30 p.m. To purchase tickets and view movie selections, visit www.coppellartscenter.org or www.coppelltx.gov. “Once you get there, we try to make it a seamless experience,” Anderson said.
TACA (The Arts Community Alliance) recently announced a third and final round of grants from its Emergency Arts Relief Fund. The first two rounds of grants focused on helping small and mid-size groups with annual operating budgets of $5 million or less.
Thanks in part to a $100,00 grant from the Meadows Foundation, the third round of grants supports seven large arts organizations with grants of $20,000 each. The recipients are AT&T Performing Arts Center, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Theater Center. Nasher Sculpture Center, Texas Ballet Theater and The Dallas Opera.
“As we’ve seen in recent survey results, the COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a critical blow to the Dallas arts community, so it’s especially gratifying when donors like Meadows Foundation step forward to help. It is important to our board, staff and me that the Fund conclude with a distribution to our partners in the Arts District. Thanks in part to the Meadows gift, TACA is making a final round of grants to seven deserving organizations to provide much-needed support during these challenging times,” Terry D. Loftis, Carlson President and Executive Director of TACA, said.
Since the TACA Emergency Relief Fund was established in late March, more than $700,000 was raised through gifts from family foundations and individuals. The three rounds of grant award distributed $592,500 through 87 grants. The remaining funds will be reserved for future arts support and programming in addition to covering the administrative costs associated with fundraising.
Learn more about TACA: https://taca-arts.org/