Missoula’s Wilma Theater to be Operated as a Knitting Factory Facility
Knitting Factory Entertainment announced today that they are in a new 5 year partnership with the historic Wilma Theater.
This isn’t a huge surprise considering that the fine folks at the Knitting Factory are responsible for the majority of Blaze shows you’ve seen at The Wilma. Other promoters have brought shows to the Wilma in the past, and there are some non-Knitting Factory events scheduled for the near future, but after that, all shows at the venue will be produced by Knitting Factory Presents. For at least 5 years anyway.
It’s my sincere hope that this means more opportunities for rock shows in Missoula. And I’m proud of all you concert goers for supporting live music to the point that our little ‘ol town can actually have a Knitting Factory venue, that’s pretty badass.
From the official press release:
Knitting Factory Entertainment has signed a five-year agreement to operate Rick Wishcamper and Justin Metcalf’s Wilma Theatre in Missoula, Montana. The beloved 90 year-old riverfront downtown mainstay will be operated as a Knitting Factory facility, joining properties in Los Angeles and Long Beach, CA; Brooklyn, NY; Boise, ID; Reno, NV, and Spokane, WA.
Over the past seven years The Wilma Theatre and Knitting Factory Presents have worked together to promote and produce nearly 300 shows, bringing top-tier entertainment to downtown Missoula, including internationally recognized acts Jane’s Addiction, Primus, Iron & Wine, Fitz & The Tantrums, Skrillex, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and many more talented artists.
With a proven track record of commitment to arts and culture, as well as a diversity of programming, the partnership between The Wilma and Knitting Factory has brought an average of over 70,000 event patrons to downtown Missoula annually thus creating demand for dining, lodging, drinking and other economic activity.
“We’re pleased to be entering this new chapter in our relationship with The Wilma Theatre,” said Knitting Factory CEO Morgan Margolis. “This historic, dual purpose venue gives us an opportunity to extend our curatorial reach and enhance The Wilma’s status as a first class arts venue for Missoula.”
“Knitting Factory Entertainment will continue to operate The Wilma as a hub for arts and culture in downtown Missoula with a commitment to quality and diversity of programming,” said Mark Dinerstein, SVP of Business Development. “We’re excited to assist The Wilma in their mission to provide top quality national acts and customer service to the people of the Missoula area.”
“This is an exciting opportunity to work with the best in class professionals at Knitting Factory and to take The Wilma to the next level,” said Wishcamper. He added that “Knitting Factory will allow us to better serve the Missoula community with increased access to top quality programming while improving the venue’s operations in terms of both physical flow and a consistent customer experience.”
The most noticeable programming change will be a likely shift in movie programming from weekly-run independent films to a monthly-programmed film schedule allowing for greater targeting of films that appeal to the Missoula audience. Film festivals like the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, The International Wildlife Film Festival, The Banff Film Festival, and others are expected to continue to find a welcome home at The Wilma. “While our local film festivals have thrived at The Wilma, nightly movie attendance has had a dramatic annual decline since we took ownership of the theatre several years ago,” Wishcamper said. “A new model for programming films that people really want to see, films that will pull people away from Netflix and bring them to the theatre, is a really energizing proposition.”
About Knitting Factory Entertainment
“Curators of Music, Food and Style since 1987,” KFE owns four Knitting Factory live music venues and three restaurants—two Federal Bars and Bow and Truss—in the Western US. Knitting Factory Records, along with its partners Partisan Records and Young One Records, manages recorded music catalogues and current and legacy artists (including Deer Tick, Gipsy Kings, Mountain Man, Middle Brother and Heartless Bastards); releases content in all formats as well as music-branded DVDs. Figure Eight Media, Knitting Factory Management and Van Johnson Company handle the careers of emerging and critically acclaimed recording and theatrical artists both in the U.S. and overseas—including !!!, Flock of Dimes, Ducky, The Juan McClean, Jose Gonzalez, Junip, Middle Brother, Hundred Visions, Diamond Rugs, Wye Oak, Dungeonesse, Rhythm Monks, JAK, The Knitts, Adam Bones, Prima Donna, Nervous Wreckords, Jack Littman, and DJ Rasadon. The KFE-produced Broadway hit Fela! has toured the world and the documentary FINDING FELA! premiered at the Sundance film Festival in January 2014. It has recently debuted the brand-integrated “rock-u-mentary” Rock City Los Angeles. Its licensing division is producing branded apparel and accessories.
About The Wilma Theatre
Built in 1921 along the bank of the Clark Fork River in downtown Missoula, Montana, the Wilma building has a long and colorful history. Commonly called the “Showplace of Montana,” the eight-story building was constructed by William “Billy” Simons, an early western entrepreneur who produced Wild West shows and built theatres in Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska during the Gold Rush. At the grand opening, the main floor theatre was dedicated to his wife, Edna Wilma, a famous light opera star who performed on the Pantages vaudeville circuit. Eighty-five years later the Wilma building with its Louis XIV-style theatre, remains a Missoula icon. It was the first modern steel-framed skyscraper built in Missoula. It houses a main theatre, a screening room, three private banquet rooms, offices, and residential space.