The Bud Frank Theatre has been a source of enrichment for decades.

For years, the Bud Frank Theatre was the site of many performances and productions at East Tennessee State University, and it will continue to be a hub for the arts with the new “Cinema at the Bud Frank Theatre.” 

The theater will serve the community as a site of entertainment and enrichment – and the only art cinema in the region outside of Asheville, North Carolina.  

“This is important, because half of the films released – indeed, half the Oscar contenders – do not play in Northeast Tennessee on initial release,” said Dr. Matthew Holtmeier, an associate professor in the Department of Literature and Language. “We currently live in a cinema desert, but hopefully we will be able to rectify that with the Bud Frank.” 

“Cinema at the Bud Frank Theatre” kicks off at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 5, with an opening reception, live music performed by musicians in ETSU’s Bluegrass, Old-Time and Roots Music Studies and a screening of the silent film, “Our Hospitality,” happening at 7 p.m. 

All events are free and open to the public this semester as part of a soft launch, though an admission fee will likely be charged as the program grows and additional films become available.  

“This has been a quiet dream for many of us at ETSU,” said Dr. Joe Bidwell, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “We knew Gilbreath Hall was going to be renovated, so we felt this was the right time to invest in the Bud Frank Theatre.” 

Cinema-quality equipment is now part of the experience, and this semester, the ETSU community will screen four more films. Those include:  

  • “Annihilation” on Tuesday, Oct. 24; 
  • “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” on Monday, Oct. 30; 
  • “Frankenstein,” a National Theatre Live performance, on Sunday, Nov. 5; and 
  • “White Christmas” on Friday, Dec. 1. 

Beyond serving as an important site for art cinema in the Appalachian Highlands, the space will offer incredible opportunities to Film and Media students, providing them with hands-on experience with programming and working with distributors, according to Dr. Chelsea Wessels, associate professor in Literature and Language.   

Students getting hands-on learning opportunities is at the core of ETSU’s approach to education, and across a range of programs, ETSU aims to help students shift seamlessly from enrollment to employment.    

ETSU is also home to a thriving arts community, hosting dozens of concerts, talks and exhibitions each year.   

For a complete schedule of events at the renovated Bud Frank Theatre, visit  


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