Curtain closing on Alice Clark's tenure as Pickford's executive director

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDSeptember 19, 2013 

I know Alice Clark to be one of the tireless movers and shakers of Whatcom County.

When she told me in the late '90s that she not only "had a dream" for Pickford Cinema, a small theater that shared space with Allied Arts and iDiOM Theater, but later that she had an actual "dream space" on Bay Street, I had no doubt that she would make that dream a reality.

It was tough going for a while, particularly during the economic downturn of 2008.

I also know that Alice cherishes her time with her family, on the beaches of Mexico, and, of course, baking pies. But I was still a bit sad to receive a letter from Mary Doherty, president of Pickford's board of directors, letting members know that Alice is resigning as executive director on Dec. 31, the position she's held since 2001.

Here's what Mary said in the press release: "Pickford Film Center has become one of Bellingham's most respected cultural institutions thanks to the tireless work of Clark at the helm of the dedicated staff, volunteers and community supporters."

And Alice says: "I became involved in the organization as a founding board member and volunteer in 1998 and at that time I had no idea that it would lead me to this position."

"I learned early on in my tenure with PFC that film has such an immense ability to impact a community in a positive way. That was a huge draw for me personally. Although there is some sadness in closing this very rewarding chapter of my life, there is a lot of satisfaction as well. The Pickford has come so far in the past 15 years and its future is bright and full of possibilities. It has all the potential in the world."

Mary enumerates the many accomplishments under Alice's leadership:

- Revenue increased from $230,000 to $1 million;

- Membership grew from 1,000 to 3,500;

- Money was raised to buy new digital projection equipment for both the Limelight and for Pickford Film Center in 2012.

- PFC won two Bellingham Mayor's Arts Awards, recognizing the organization's impact as a cultural institution.

- Attendance grew from 14,340 to 85,380 tickets sold annually.

- Pickford expanded from one, 80-seat venue to two venues with a total of 277 seats (and don't forget the wine!).

In matters unrelated to the Pickford, Alice's unbounded energy led her to organize the annual Sunnyland Stomp, a free, self-guided neighborhood art walk that takes place each July; and more recently, Alice's Pies (try the chocolate bourbon pecan), which she sells at Bellingham Farmers Market. You can also enjoy them at Book Fare (the top floor of Village Books), Bayou on Bay and at Temple Bar.

I'm a friend of Alice's, so I asked her for a few more comments on her plans. Here's what she said:

"The pie business will take up most of my time. I have a whole set of new challenges to take on and new skills to learn, which always makes me happy.

I will keep organizing the Stomp, too. That event has really taken off and with the Chicken Race added on and other things we have in mind for it, it will need more attention devoted to it in 2014.

I also plan to travel in January 2014 to Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, places I haven't been yet.

Lastly, I have other ideas for projects that are on a larger scale, which will take some time to explore and pursue. One of my favorites involves helping the planet by empowering American women to use their purchasing power to impact change on a global level.

I feel like as some of the most educated and privileged demographic on Earth, we should spend more time organizing like this for positive change, versus getting sidetracked by our current body weight, shoe collection or handbag color. Not sure when I will start on this, but I am excited about its possibilities."

You can sample Alice's pies, by the way, at the Bite of Bellingham on Sunday, Sept. 22, at Depot Market Square, and look for Alice's Pies on Facebook.

Pickford's board of directors has formed a hiring committee to guide the search for a new executive director. Details: pickfordfilmcenter.org.

BELLINGHAM THEATRE GUILD ANNOUNCES WINNERS

Bellingham Theatre Guild recently held its annual Bentley Awards ceremony. Here are the winners for the 2012-2013 season:

Best show: "Quilters"

Best director: Michele Kriz, "Quilters"

Best leading actor: Joseph Sasnett, "Sweeney Todd"

Best leading actress: Teri Grimes, "Glorious"

Best supporting actor: Matthew Miller, "Sweeney Todd"

Best supporting actress: Bonnie Hollingsworth, "The Pajama Game"

Best ensemble: "Quilters"

Best junior actor: Zoe Schackel, "Quilters"

Best choreographer: Lisa Markowitz, "The Pajama Game"

Best musical director: T.J. Anderson, "Quilters"

Special awards via Francie Gass to all of the ladies who made the quilts for "Quilters"

Special award for David Cohn for his production photos

Peoples choice awards: Best actor, Joseph Sasnett; Best actress, Teri Grimes; `Best show, "Quilters"

At the event, says Judith Owens-Lancaster, there were preview snippets of each show from the coming season: "The Prisoner of Second Avenue," "Inspecting Carol," "Musical Revue" (from past seasons), "The Women of Lockerbie," a taste of the Bellingham One-Act (B.O.A.T.) Festival, and "A Chorus Line." Details: bellinghamtheatreguild.com.

FLUTE ENSEMBLE SEEKS MEMBERS

I received a call from Sharon Camlin, who told me that a new group, Whatcom Flute Ensemble, is looking for more members. Rehearsals began Sept. 16, but the next one is 5:30 to 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23, at Whatcom Hills Waldorf School, 941 Austin St.

Sharon says the ensemble welcomes intermediate and advanced flutists of all ages, with the goal to enjoy playing in an ensemble that performs duets to full flute choir music across all genres. The ensemble performs six times a year.

The rehearsal Sept. 23 will focus on site reading music for the fall and into the winter. The Sept. 30 rehearsal will be a master class with Western Washington University flute instructor Lisa McCarthy, who plays with Whatcom Symphony Orchestra.

Contact Sharon at camblins@comcast.net or 360-220-3415 for more information. Online, go to this webpage.

Reach Margaret Bikman at 360-715-2273 or margaret.bikman@bellinghamherald.com. Follow Bellingham Entertainment on Facebook or @bhamentertainme on Twitter.

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