By November 29, 2019 0 Comments Read More →

Interview – Kirstie Boyett

Kirstie Boyett
by Chris Murphy

Opened on Christmas Day in 1934, the fabulous historic State Theatre is the last of the grande dame movie theatres in Modesto. Modesto was an early supporter of the arts and movies, and back in the early part of the century, 10th Street was home to many theatres, both for stage and screen. Toward the mid-century, we were the Strand, the Covell and The State were the home of the premier movies. Sadly, we lost the “fireproof” Strand to fire in the 80s, and The Covell met the wrecking ball in 1998 to make way for 10th Street Place. Today the State Theatre stands, resplendent in a huge overhaul and continues with a vibrant movie and live performance calendar with a bright neon and digital marquee that lights up J Street.

I have a particular love for this Theatre as a former Board President when we were trying to restore, rebuild and upgrade the theatre in the early 2000s. We made a lot of headway and set the stage for the Mike Zagaris lead push to go for a complete renovation to the beautiful place it is today. This month, the State Celebrates the opening of “The Jewel” the new small-scale theatre tucked into a new space, adjacent to the main auditorium. There is excitement to come as the State Celebrates 85 years. The State has also been home to the Modesto Area Music Awards since 2001 to celebrate excellence in our music community and there are regular annual events like the Ill List, happening on December 14 that regularly sell out. A diverse, active and vibrant Board of Directors is in place and there is dynamic leadership from Executive Director Kirstie Boyett. Let’s catch up with Kirstie and learn about the exciting things happening at The State.

ModestoView: What is so special about the non-profit State Theatre?
Kirstie Boyett: The State Theatre enriches our community by offering exceptional cultural, educational, film and performance-based experiences.

MV: Why did you want to take on this position and how do you think you can help move the State Theatre forward?
KB: I joined the State Theatre Board of Directors in 2005 during the last major renovation. I was twice elected board president so I fully understood the mission and operations of the organization. When asked to move into the Executive Director’s role, I grew excited by the opportunity to take this wonderful theater that I love to the next level. I believe that I can continue to make The State a more relevant component of the arts & entertainment scene in Modesto.

MV: The State is unique in that you can host both films and live performances; how have you seen the blend of these offerings benefitting the State and the community.
KB: It’s not unusual for us to host our Youth Education Programming in the morning, a film that afternoon, and a rock concert that night! We can bring the best of all worlds. We are committed to being a theatre for the entire community…inclusive in every respect. The State Theatre is a place where differing ideas are welcomed and discussion encouraged.

MV: The State has recently had some important upgrades, tell us about those.
KB: Our Board of Directors is incredible. They are fully committed to ensuring that this facility represents the best and latest in music, sound, and light while maintaining the beauty of this historic treasure. The Jewel, our new micro-theatre represents a fusion of these values. This 25-seat venue will provide an intimate setting for enjoying great cinema, business meetings, private parties or even your next fantasy team draft.

MV: You are opening the new smaller Jewel Theatre this month, what was the inspiration for this?
KB: The State Theatre first opened its doors on Christmas, 1934. The dedication of The Jewel and its first film will be held this Christmas Eve. We like to think of it as our Christmas gift to the citizens of Modesto! Having the Jewel as a second screen, allows us the opportunity to meet our distributors requirements on how frequently a film runs and we can still show a film while having those fun (and more lucrative) concerts!

MV: Describe the support that the State receives from the board of directors and the community for these efforts.
KB: To say that The State Theatre has the best board in town is not hyperbole. To a person, each manifests a sincere passion for the mission of The State, a commitment to their fiduciary duties, and a willingness to give generously in support of this nonprofit theater.

MV: What are some of the regular challenges you have operating a historic theatre?
KB: Our challenges are not unlike other artistic and cultural organizations in town. We strive to bring relevant films and entertainment options that our community desires, and that’s not an easy task. That said, our patrons rate us highly in terms of programming, customer service, concessions, and overall experience.

MV: What is the future for Modesto’s State Theatre?
KB: Our strategic plan calls for The State Theatre to be “…the soul of the cultural renaissance of downtown Modesto.” We will do this by offering a wide range of films, performances and educational programs that promote community access and enable all residents of the region to participate in arts programs of excellence.

MV: Describe one of your favorite State Theatre moments?
KB: That’s easy. The time I saw kids pile off a bus for one of our Youth Education Programming events…when they walked into the lobby with wide eyes full of amazement. Many of them had never been to The State nor seen a movie venue of this grandeur. Priceless.

MV: How can people support the State and do you offer membership programs?
KB: Many people don’t realize that The State is a nonprofit theatre. We receive no government support, and ticket sales and concessions don’t fully cover the cost of this mission. People can help by giving generously, participating in special events, and by coming regularly. We have a great membership program with a lot of perks including free movie tickets and free bags of our famous popcorn with real butter! We have added films and events that are free for our members and on certain occasions our members get a free glass of bubbly when they check in at our member table.

MV: If someone doesn’t know about the State, what do they need to know?
KB: The State Theatre engages the creative and innovative spirit of our community to enhance the quality of life for all people. We are a venue that reach all segments of our community with affordable, accessible and inclusive programming that enlightens, educates and entertains. We provide an environment to explore cultural diversity, different world views and creativity through film, performance, and other media.
The State Theatre of Modesto



About the Author:

Chris Murphy is the President and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group and Publisher and Founder of ModestoView Inc. Chris worked globally in the cycling industry returning to Modesto in 1996. He is also the founder of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame, Modesto Rockin’ Holiday, the Modesto Music History Organization and co-founder of the Modesto Area Music Association. Chris is married to his artist wife Rebecca since 1985 and has two daughters Madison and Abigail, both graduating from Modesto High and UC Berkeley. He is lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party that donates their performances to non-profits.