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Tampa Theatre Honored as America’s Top Historic Theatre



The Historic Tampa Theatre (711 N Franklin St) stands as one of the world’s premier movie palaces, renowned for its charm and top-notch theatre popcorn. Now, The League of Historic American Theatres (LHAT) has joined the chorus of admirers, bestowing upon Tampa Theatre the title of Outstanding Historic Theatre for 2024. Additionally, Tampa Theatre President and CEO John Bell has been honored with the Joseph Rosenberg Award for Outstanding Individual Contribution. These prestigious awards were announced at LHAT’s 48th annual National Conference in Milwaukee.

Excellence in Historic Theatre Recognition

The Outstanding Historic Theatre Award celebrates a theatre’s excellence in community impact, the quality of its programs and services, and the restoration or rehabilitation of its historic structure. According to the nomination criteria, “an award-winning theatre will have demonstrated excellence through significant achievement, the impact of its services and breadth of populations served, and the length of time and/or intensity of its activities.” Tampa Theatre was nominated by peers from the Belcourt Theatre in Nashville, Tenn., and the Tennessee Theatre in Knoxville, who highlighted Tampa Theatre’s esteemed reputation among both patrons and peers.

Celebrating John Bell’s Contributions

John Bell, who has led Tampa Theatre since 1985, was nominated for the Joseph Rosenberg Award for Outstanding Individual Contribution by the theatre’s staff and Board of Directors, supported by letters from numerous LHAT colleagues, local arts leaders, and state and local officials. This award honors individuals who exhibit vision, dedication, selflessness, and excellence through their contributions to historic theatres and their communities, whether as a volunteer, board member, patron, donor, service provider, staff member, or advocate-at-large. Award recipients are recognized for their significant contributions, the impact of their services, and the breadth and intensity of their activities benefiting historic theatres.

Words of Gratitude

“Although I am honored,” Bell said during his acceptance speech, “it should be me presenting the League with an award for everything it has meant to me. Without this brilliant group of people – whom I have relied upon for advice and support for 40 years – I would not be standing here today.”

LHAT’s Mission and Legacy

Founded in 1976, the League of Historic American Theatres is a non-profit organization dedicated to sustaining historic theatres across North America for the benefit of their communities and future generations. The League defines an eligible historic theatre as one that is at least 50 years old and architecturally significant, having played an important role in the history of American stage and screen, or capable of being used as a performing arts facility. LHAT currently represents more than 380 historic theatres and organizations across the United States and Canada.

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