Historic Bay Theatre seeks some modern comfort in downtown Suttons Bay with new seating and more

What’s happening: The Bay Theatre opened in downtown Suttons Bay in 1946. And while the charm of a historic downtown theater is unmatched, the original seating could use a little updating. That’s more than 70 years of guests sitting in those chairs, and the Bay Community Theatre nonprofit is poised to make the theater-going experience a little more safe and comfortable.

Background: The Bay Community Theatre nonprofit was formed in 2018 when it was announced that the historic theater was set to close. The community came together to form the 501(c)(3) and took over theater operations on New Year’s Day 2019. They would ultimately purchase the building in December 2019.

What’s planned: The nonprofit running the theater plans to replace the seating, repair and refinish the floors, expand accessibility features to be more in line with today’s American with Disabilities Act standards, and add floor lighting for safety purposes. The improvements will allow the theater to host more live events, including music and comedy performances, workshops, and more. The nonprofit also plans to offer $1 movie days for children.

A rendering of the new seating at The Bay.
How they’ll do it: The Bay Community Theatre project has been accepted into Public Spaces Community Places, the placemaking initiative from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. A crowdfunding campaign launched in September aims to raise $50,000 by Monday, Oct. 31. Should they prove successful, the MEDC will contribute a $50,000 matching grant.

The crowdfunding campaign is being hosted on the Michigan-based Patronicity platform, which is available HERE.

Why it’s important: “The MEDC's Public Spaces Community Places Program is enabling a critical and exciting upgrade to our non-profit community theatre. Thanks to the matching grant we will be able to replace our 70-year-old seats and dramatically improve the theatre experience for the thousands of patrons who visit The Bay each year,” says Rick Andrews, President of the Bay Community Theatre. “Our old seats are simply not comfortable for a long movie or a live show and our patrons have been hoping we would replace them. The PSCP program is making it happen.”

The Bay Theatre is located at 214 N. St. Joseph St. in downtown Suttons Bay.

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