Olympic Theatre owner to receive award

ARLINGTON — Norma Pappas has offered the art of cinema to Arlington audiences since her father bought the old Olympic Theatre in 1977.

Today the future of the single-screen movie house is uncertain, but Pappas is being recognized for her longtime contributions to the city’s cultural life.

On Saturday, the Arlington Arts Commission plans to present Pappas with the annual Arney Art Advocate of Arlington Award.

Pappas, who said she barely breaks even on the operation of the theater, has no money to make the switch from film to digital, which motion picture studios plan to require of theater owners next year. Without the $50,000 conversion to digital, Arlington’s only movie theater could be reduced to screening an occasional older flick or shutting down altogether. A group of people who want to make the conversion have formed a nonprofit organization to save the theater.

The Arney award is to be made at the arts commission’s 10th annual Fall into Art gala auction at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Medallion Hotel, 16710 Smokey Point Blvd.

Tickets, $35 each, include a buffet dinner, a chance to bid in silent and live auctions and entertainment by Blue Stilly Players members MacKenzie Mott and Andy Clawson, who plan to sing songs from movie musicals.

The annual auction is the commission’s one fundraiser, said founding president, Sarah Arney.

“The potential to continue enhancing Arlington through art depends on participation by the community,” Arney said in a press release. “Since the city’s centennial in 2003, the AAC has worked to enhance the community of Arlington with public art. We have added sculptures and murals along the Centennial Trail and on buildings around downtown Arlington, as well as interior art in public spaces.”

Keynote speaker at the auction is Wendy Becker, economic and cultural development officer for Snohomish County.

“I plan to focus on how the arts are part of economic development. Many people don’t make that connection,” Becker said. “But companies looking to relocate to Snohomish County are interested in the quality of life, and places that have an active arts scene are the ones that flourish.”

The annual auction also provides an opportunity to vote on the best proposals for future art projects in Arlington and to honor accomplishments earned by the arts commission during the previous year. These include the installation of new banners for light posts around town, murals created by youth, street fair art for children, art shows and concerts.

“Even in this tight economy, AAC has had a very productive year, as it continues to provide quality art experiences for all ages,” Arney said.

Among the auction items are original art in all media donated by commission members and friends, as well as other goods, services and experiences.

Auction tickets are available at Flowers By George, 335 N. Olympic Ave., in downtown Arlington and at Brushstrokes art supply, 5702 172nd St., Arlington. For information call 360-403-3448.

For information about the Save the Olympic Theatre campaign, call 360-436-6266 or go to the campaign’s website at www.savetheolympictheatre.org/.

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

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