Today I visited the Tampa Theatre to get a glimpse of the backstage and green room areas, and to introduce myself in person to the operations assistant, with whom I have been communicating over the past month via email and phone. I am a frequent patron of the Tampa Theatre, but I had only seen the theater, lobby and balcony up until this evening. It was exciting to see another perspective—one that I will likely see a lot during the International Freethought Film Festival.
What was even more exciting for me was to have confirmation that the Tampa Theatre staff is as progressive and open-minded as I suspected, and they are welcoming us without prejudice. Their open door policy is a refreshing change from not having calls returned, and not receiving requested rental quotes even after following up. It has been the complete opposite with the Tampa Theatre, and I am thrilled that the communication and cooperation has been so positive.
I know that they understand that we do not want to give the impression that the film festival is for “converting” anyone to particular ideals. Other cultural film festivals carry on year after year with a specific audience in mind as they present films that fit their niche. Such film festivals are also held with the intent that others, who might like to learn about different perspectives from their own, would feel welcomed to attend some of the screenings to educate themselves. GLBT film festivals are not held to lead anyone to homosexuality, nor are Jewish film festivals held with the intent gaining new converts. Those who are already of the same culture attend such film festivals for a sense of community. Others who attend these events may hold the same interests, but may not be aware that such communities exist. As a result, some may decide to become more involved. Still others may attend and gain a new understanding about another perspective, and may leave with a greater respect for diversity and multiculturalism.
The International Freethought Film Festival is a cultural event, a celebration, and one that also enlightens. Our opening night of Friday the 13th of May, 2011 is on the calendar of the Tampa Theatre, and we will be signing a rental contract in September. Additional sponsors are still needed. We have eight more openings at the Film Sponsor level, as well as a need for major event sponsors. These sponsors are paramount to our success and continuation of the film festival beyond the first season. We ask that organizations, with the same goal of promoting reason, get behind this event in whatever capacity they can. In addition, we ask that “freethought friendly” businesses extend their support by placing ads in our program, and/or donating promotional items for swag bags and happenings that will be taking place in between the film screenings.
The call for support for the International Freethought Film Festival aside, I encourage freethinkers who live in the Tampa Bay area to show the Tampa Theatre some love. It is truly a historic treasure, and worthy of your patronage. While you’re there, shake a manager’s hand and let her or him know that you appreciate their commitment to diversity, and that you are looking forward to the International Freethought Film Festival. (In a faraway land? Shoot them an email) Visit their Website for more information: http://www.tampatheatre.org