The idea for the Tubman Museum’s “back lot drive-in” started when Executive Director Andy Ambrose and his wife, Terry, began kicking around ways to use the back of the museum while giving the public something fun to do.
It wasn’t long before thoughts of having a theater came to mind.
“We really wanted to bring back the experience that was already renowned in the South,” Ambrose said. “It’s an opportunity to bring people together.”
Overall, the museum plans for there to be a broad range of showings, partnering with community organizations in order to come up with other ideas as well.
The museum was awarded a grant of more than $90,000 from the Knight Cities Challenge for the project. In time, the drive-in theater’s offerings will be free to the public.
The grant money will primarily be spent on equipment, including a 30-foot-long LED panel projected to cost about $50,000. It will be mounted on the building’s back terrace for viewing, paired with Bluetooth technology so that viewers can hear the sound of the film from a designated station on the radio. The museum also aims to have outdoor speakers.
The venue will be able to accommodate more than 100 people for a movie. Viewers will be able to use the space to park their cars or bring their own lawn chairs. Although the goal is to show the first film this fall, there is no set date yet. The films will be shown at night once a quarter.
Screenings will coincide with exhibitions that support the museum’s mission to educate visitors about African-American art, history and culture.
“The plan is to present family film presentations that could be suitable for a broad range of ages so they aren’t limiting the potential of the theater,” Ambrose said.
Ambrose also hopes to partner with organizations including Bragg Jam, the Macon Film Festival and the Pan-African Festival, among others, in order to host concerts and other events at the venue.
Parking lot park could pop up this fall
Cole Porter, another winner of the Knight Cities Challenge, plans to use his $25,500 grant to turn the Mulberry Street parking garage, near the Douglass Theater, into a space that looks and feels as much like a public park as possible, complete with benches, plants, umbrellas and more. However, it’s not meant to be permanent.
“The goal is to demonstrate how it could look to show developers and county commissioners what they could do if they targeted these areas,” Porter said. “We want to make it a space where anyone can attend and activate those properties that are currently unused.”
Porter hopes to host a two-day event at the pop-up park similar to the Cotton Avenue pop-up experience earlier this year. The event had transformed the space into a pedestrian plaza complete with outdoor furniture, plant decor, and live music. The goal is to hold the event during the First Friday weekend in either October or November, when more people can take advantage of the space.
He hopes to collaborate with existing organizations to bring in vendors, live music and more to the event.
Cordilia James: 479.744.4489