Parkway Theatre officials announced a progressive plan Tuesday night to revamp the historic building.

The onetime movie theater, which has had several stop-start moments over the decades, now has a five-year business vision that includes several steps to strengthen the establishment and the surrounding community.

The Central Baltimore Partnership and Station North Arts District is committing $155,000 to help make the footpath to the Parkway “increasingly accessible, well-lit and convenient,” said Camille Blake Fall, vice chair of the Parkway’s board of directors. Johns Hopkins University has also pledged to commit several million dollars to the establishment over the next several years, an amount that Scot Spencer, chairman of the board, said was “critical” for the neighborhood.

The Parkway was intended for vaudeville when it opened in 1915, but was largely used for films and performances, a live radio broadcast program called “Nocturne,” and poetry readings — but as a telltale sign of things to come, it would close in 1978. After the Maryland Film Festival acquired the property in 2016, the theater reopened the next year thanks in large part to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation providing a $5 million gift to renovate the theater. The Parkway, which had been used for many first-run films, closed its operations in early 2023, putting the festival on hiatus that year.

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But after the festival’s return to the Parkway earlier this month, it was announced Tuesday that the 26th annual Maryland Film Festival will take place there in May of next year, too. That was immediately followed, though, by the news that Parkway’s plan is to no longer show films every day — or even every week.

“Don’t be mistaken, we will show film often,” Spencer said to the crowd of hundreds gathered to hear about the future of the theater. “But when you see film at the Parkway in the future, it will be more often than not presented as a part of series of films on a topic or a theme.” Screenings will be complemented with panel discussions in partnership with nonprofits and for-profit organizations, Spencer said.

When those films aren’t being shown, the stage will be available for live performances including, but not limited to, musical and spoken word sets, as well as partnering with the Baltimore Comedy Festival “to activate the stage as a venue for live comedy.” They will also offer two-year residency partnerships with nonprofits centered on filmmaking, live arts and education.

Film will still be the primary and largest focus of Parkway. As part of Artscape, Parkway will be free to the public for three days in August, showing works by student filmmakers, short films from Baltimore-based filmmakers and animated shorts.

“Everyone in this room has been touched by the power of film, the power of story and any magic that happens here,” said Blake Fall. “We want to be sure as many people as possible have access to that same experience.”

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Camille Blake Fall, left, and Scot Spencer, vice chair and chair of the board of directors, respectively, give updates on the Parkway Theatre’s future at an event on May 28. (Taji Burris)

In an effort to help grow the local filmmaking community in Baltimore, the Parkway will provide educational programs for young creatives, including workshops.

As forms of media and entertainment evolve, so will the theater, which will eventually also serve as a hub for the gaming industry. “Intersections between filming and gaming are quickly revolutionizing both industries,” Spencer said. “We see the conversation between these two industries as a major developing trend,” Blake Fall added.

Though Blake Fall and Spencer didn’t provide an exact timeline for the ambitious plans, they did promise their best efforts to tackle the upcoming agenda.

“The road ahead will not be easy,” Spencer said. “But we’re going to work with optimism and focus, with our ears to the ground and our sights set on the horizon.”