A generous local donor has challenged the Pickford Community…

Raise $200,000 for the Pickford on Grand expansion by the end of 2022 and they will match every penny.

Now we come to you, our community, to help turn this dream into a reality. I ask you to consider giving to Pickford Film Center’s Grand Expansion Capital Campaign and help get us to the finish line so we can bring you more movies!


Pickford Film Center has purchased a second building in downtown Bellingham

105 Grand Avenue, less than a block from our Bay Street location will be the site for two new 70-seat and one 20-seat cinemas.  It is a great addition to the Arts District, an endorsement for the viability of downtown and recognition that Bellingham loves going to the movies.

This expansion is necessary for the Pickford to accomplish our programming and mission goals and continue to bring you the independent films that you have come to appreciate and expect from the Pickford.  Without additional screens, we are unable to showcase films from underserved filmmakers and work with community partners to bring films that are important for education and cultural growth.


In 2020, because of pandemic concerns, we made the difficult decision to permanently close the Limelight.  We immediately began discussing how to make up for the loss of 1/3 of our potential films, 1/3 of our potential showtimes and the revenue that went with it. 

The lost revenue sent shockwaves through our business plan, limiting our resources for free programs and discounted tickets.  Many of the things that make the Pickford special like the children’s festival, repertory programs, Rooftop Cinema, and Rocket Sci-Fi have been dependent on having cash flow from three screens.

In addition, booking first-run films requires the Pickford to follow the dictates of film distributors: for many titles we have to offer what is called a clean screen.  That means that their one title has to be the only film showing on one of our screens for two weeks or more. 

This limits what we can book and often we have to turn down popular films because we can’t offer a clean screen.  With the Pickford on Grand, we will have five screens total, and our Program Director will be able to book more titles as well as make room for community events, short runs, festivals, niche and genre titles.

What makes the Pickford so special and leaves you wanting more?



Check out the short film Pickford the Dream from Moment Films to find out why people keep coming back and can’t wait for more to come.


Make a One Time Gift

Help us reach our campaign goals with a one time donation!

Make a Monthly Pledge Gift

Gifts of $150 and up can now be pledged over 12 months!
  • Use “Make a Gift” button
  • Select a gift level of $150 or more
  • Click “Make a 12 Month Pledge”

Donate Stock

Just forward this information to your financial advisor:

  • Receiving Institution Account Number: PLR-001519
  • Account Title/Registration: Pickford Film Center
  • Contact Name at Charitable Organization: Susie Purves
  • Telephone Number: 360-647-1300
  • Mailing Address: PO Box 2521, Bellingham, WA 98227
  • Name of Receiving Institution: Saturna Capital Corporation
  • DTC Number of Receiving Institution (“delivery instructions”): 0443
  • You or your financial advisor should email to notify us when your donation has been made

Donate your Required Minimum Distribution

When you make a qualified charitable distribution directly from your IRA, you are supporting the Pickford while meeting your annual distribution threshold. Talk with your financial advisor about making a gift before year-end!

Requirements for taking advantage of this tax-free giving opportunity:

  • You must be 70 1/2 or older on the day of the gift.
  • You may transfer up to $100,000 from your IRA to one or more qualified charities.
  • You decline goods and services of value.

Your Charitable IRA Rollover gift is not subject to income tax and counts towards your required minimum distribution for the year. If helpful, please feel free to use this template to communicate with your account custodian.

  • Have your financial institution make the check payable to Pickford Film Center, and send to PO Box 2521 Bellingham, WA 98227
  • Payment must come directly from your financial institution in order to avoid taxation
  • Your name and mailing address should be included with payment
  • If you have questions or would like to designate your gift to a specific fund, contact


In 1998, the Pickford Film Center, then named Whatcom Film Association, opened the doors of the Pickford Cinema. Meant to be a venue for independent, foreign, and documentary films, the Pickford was a crucial part of the revitalization of downtown Bellingham. As audiences grew, it was clear the original location would soon be too small and after several years exploring downtown real estate, the building at 1318 Bay Street was purchased in 2004.

 A capital campaign commenced in 2005 and six years later, with $3,250,000 donated by the community, along with a timely loan from Bank of the Pacific, the doors on PFC’s new home opened.

Once the flagship theatre on Bay Street was in operation, the PFC renovated the original cinema, renamed it the Limelight, and continued to occupy that location as a rented venue. This gave us three screens, which meant more films, more flexibility, larger festivals, longer film runs, and greater capacity, along with greater service to the community and our mission.

The $800,000 loan, taken out in 2011, was paid off in 2019, which gave us one fully owned property with two theatres. Retaining the Limelight, which continually ran in the black, gave us a much needed third screen and allowed us to maintain our ties with the Pickford’s roots.

However, in September of 2020, the Pickford Film Center board and staff reluctantly made the decision to close the Limelight permanently. We did not know how long the pandemic and its restrictions would last, but it seemed likely that it would be impossible to mitigate health and safety concerns in a space with a tiny lobby and a shared ventilation system. We concentrated instead on upgrading the Bay Street ventilation and making other safety related changes there and hoped that a solution to our need for more than two screens would present itself at some point.

The organization debated a variety of solutions, including renting space in far flung locations throughout Bellingham and in Whatcom County. However, our heart is in downtown and we have a real commitment to supporting and expanding Bellingham’s Arts District.

Enter a temporary lull in the current commercial real estate market. This allowed Pickford Film Center to buy a second downtown venue less than a block away from Bay Street. The building at 105 Grand is large enough for two large theaters and one small jewel box space, perfect for private events as well as regular screenings, along with a  spacious lobby and concession area.

The organization invested $270,000 and took out a $630,000 loan at favorable terms for the remainder of the purchase price. Now there are improvements that must be done to turn a lovely commercial building into the theatre spaces we want and need. For that, PFC intends to raise a million dollars.

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