Friends of the Paradise Theatre

Paonia, CO

FOPT Mission

The Friends of the Paradise Theatre (FOPT) is committed to providing the highest quality multi-media and live performances, sharing stories that endure, and providing accessibility to all audiences. As a not-for-profit corporation, we fulfill our mission through the production of classic plays, film and musicals; development and production of new works by established and emerging artists; educational initiatives that enrich the lives of children and adults; and outreach programs engage all audiences.

The Friends of the Paradise Theatre’s strategic plan addresses capital improvements and identifies three main goals to support stability and growth:

  1. Service to Community – Provide a multi-faceted venue for entertainment and education that brings diverse populations and organizations from Paonia and the North Fork Valley, and beyond, together for camaraderie, discourse ad enjoyment
  2. Program Excellence – Offer high quality event, movies and programs to attract consistently more and new attendees and participants
  3. Financial Resilience – Increase financial resources by 5-10% each year and establish or refine protocols and activities to support positive financial growth and organizational stability

About FOPT

The original theater in Paonia, Colorado, was built in 1928 to provide a movie and entertainment venue for the burgeoning Western town of about 1500 people. Throughout its history, the theater not only played movies, it also served the agricultural community by offering programs for children, fundraising events and community meetings.

In 2013, 85 years later and after only five previous changes in ownership, the fate of the iconic Paradise Theatre seemed unsure. Recognizing the need to preserve this important and historic community resource, a group of local citizens calling themselves the ‘Friends of the Paradise Theatre’ came forward to keep the doors open and the programming going with the help of volunteers and the Paonia Chamber of Commerce.

In early 2014, the “Friends” decided to formalize a nonprofit organization and to raise the funds necessary to purchase the building, and buy the essential digital projector. By June 2014, with the help of over 300 donors during a successful Kickstarter campaign, and generous contributions from the Colorado Save Our Screens program, the Colorado Grand, the Goodwin Family Foundation, and private investors, the theater was re-opened with a new projector and the first phase of renovation completed. The community had first-run movies and live entertainment once again!

And in May 2015, The Paradise Theatre was designated as a Historic Landmark.

Board Members

Philip Salembier


Pete Kolbenschlag


Ben Lehman

Vice President

Daniel Biggerstaff


Erin Jameson


Holly Bidle


Judy Martin


Bart Eller


Staff Member

Sunshine Knight