A landmark of Portland cinema history, The Clinton Street Theater is one of the oldest operating moviehouses in the United States.
Opening in 1915 as the Clinton, the theater became the 26th Avenue Theatre in 1945 and the Encore in 1969. In 1976 it reverted to its original name. In April of 2012, the Clinton Street Theater was purchased by Roger and Lani Jo Leigh. It has a revolving cast of volunteers and film freaks who enjoy helping support its existence.
Although the theater has undergone many changes over the years, it remains an intimate single screen venue with the capacity for 222 patrons.
Famous for its long-standing exhibition of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, the theater is currently a magnet for independent/revival films, live music, theater productions, dance performances, sex positive theater & film, drag shows, burlesque, bellydancing and more.
Just like a “starter home,” under the Leigh's tenure, the Clinton Street Theater has become the “starter home” for many emerging artists. Since the theater is open to all ages, we partner with local organizations to support musicians and other performers who are under 21. We also partner with a number of educational institutions (from day camps to universities) to provide a space where emerging filmmakers can have their work seen on the big screen. In addition, we partner with a far-reaching number of nonprofits in fundraising efforts.
With the Clinton Street Resistance Series alone (a free movie for the community on Monday nights), we raised more than $40,000 for local nonprofits. And in 2019 alone, close to $100,000 in ticket sales was disbursed directly to performers and filmmakers.
We are a gathering place for activists, and since Memorial Day 2020 the theater stands as a memorial to George Floyd and the marquee is used as a call to arms.
For really ancient history, check out this blog from 2014 that includes newspaper clippings!
The Clinton is available for event rental and screenings. Contact Lani Jo for more details.
Our mission is to support the community through the power of independent film and live events. We accomplish this mission by creating a safe and welcoming environment where people can be true to themselves while learning about the world around them. We value direct contact with each other as we build a collective, social experience--encouraging a world rich with diversity and unique points of view.
Independent Film: We work directly with filmmakers and include them in our events as often as possible. We seek out and welcome a diversity of film genres--from experimental to vintage classics--and actively create space for films that would not be shown in other venues.
Community Building: We focus on community events (inlcuding film, music and live performance) and involve community members in all that we do. We provide a space where friendships can grow while we work together to develop life-long skills and a sense of social responsibility.
Respect and Appreciation: We create a safe environment for people to explore and express who they are. We provide programming from diverse points of view, supporting each other in the expression of our truths, while building acceptance and understanding.
Why we are an LLC rather than a 501(c)3:
We believe that we can do more for the local community by remaining independent. By avoiding all of the red-tape associated with maintaining non-profit status, we are free to make decisions quickly and grow organically. This allows us to put more energy into supporting our mission and values, which in turn allows us to spend more time supporting our community. Clinton Street Theater is not a non-profit in terms of tax status, but every dollar we earn goes back into the theater to maintain our historic buidling, bring you unique programming, and support our local community.
OregonLive: Clinton Street Theater holds telethon to survive pandemic closure (September 14, 2020)
Willamette Week: The ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOWS Continues through the Pandemic (September 1, 2020)
Oregon ArtsWatch: Portland's Arthouse Theaters Haven't Given Up (August 6, 2020)
Portland Mercury: The End Might be Near (May 29, 2020)
Willemette Week: THE BIG LEBOWSKI on 35mm at the Clinton (December 20, 2016)
Article on BadCredit.org about our Kiva Zip loan campaign (March 9, 2016)
Pacific NW Photoblog (includes scans of old newspaper clippings) (August 18, 2014)