Preserving the Panida Theater

The historic Panida Theater in Sandpoint, Idaho opened during the vaudeville acts and silent films of the 1920s. Facing demolition in 1985, the community rallied to save the iconic theater, transforming it into a nonprofit performing arts center serving audiences across the Idaho Panhandle. Today, it hosts performances, community meetings, local artists and businesses, educational programs and a wealth of volunteers. All Sandpoint residents are invited to find a home at the Panida.

According to Panida Century Fund Committee member, Chris Bessler, the Panida has become a place for firsts and shared experiences in the community, from first kisses to first times performing on stage. Last year, a $10,000 anonymous gift prompted the theater to establish the Panida Theater Endowment Fund at Innovia to sustain and enrich performances and programming into the future. This endowment will ensure that locals continue to have firsts at the theater, generations after its centennial.

We have so many ways that our community is divided, but we can all come together in our shared experiences and find that we have common ground at the Panida."

As the theater and its team look toward the future, protecting the building’s historical integrity and its function as a center for storytelling is at the heart of their dream for the organization. The historic Spanish Mission style theater strives to preserve, protect and provide a venue to enrich the community culturally and economically. Focused on long-term growth with their 5-year Century Fund and their endowment fund at Innovia Foundation, the theater has plans to raise $1.9 million for their five-year Century Fund to support major renovation and operation goals as they approach their centennial in 2027.

Each year, the Panida hopes to showcase more collaboration with the community and provide educational programs for its residents. With the commitment of generous donors, volunteers, team members and artists, the Panida Theater will continue to uplift stories, art and history within its walls and on its stage for many years to come.

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