For more than a century St. Helena’s iconic Cameo Cinema has inspired people through its movies and many nonprofit events. Now it is seeking inspiration from the Napa Valley community.
Cathy Buck, owner of the single-screen movie house and Ann Nevero and Vanessa von Hessert, members of the Cameo’s nonprofit foundation, “Friends of the Cameo,” spoke on Monday afternoon about the contest they putting on.
Nevero said the Friends of the Cameo, a foundation board that supports nonprofit programs and events put on by the single-screen theater, is seeking to change the public perception of the board, “so that people understand more of what we do.”
In that effort, “Friends of the Cameo” will have a new name for the foundation. “In the process of doing that, we decided a new tagline, describing who we are, would be terrific,” Nevero said. “Taglines are so important.”
The current tagline is “The Gift of Storytelling,” which will be retired after a new tagline is chosen. “More than the gift of storytelling, we want you to tell us what inspires you. We are looking for an inspirational tagline for the foundation but one that is created by the community,” Buck said.
Maybe, something like — Telling stories, lifting spirits and changing lives, one event at a time. The contest begins Monday, July 15 and ends at midnight, Sunday, July 28. Entries can be made on the Cameo website (cameocinema.com), beginning Monday.
Entries are welcome from people throughout the community, as well as businesses and organizations, including youth groups. Children younger than 13 will need their parents to help them enter the contest.
Recognition for the winner includes their name engraved on a permanent bronze star on the Cameo’s “Galaxy Wall;” their name featured on the big screen for a month, a public thank you from Buck and recognition on the Cameo’s website and across the social media platforms.
The winner will be announced on Thursday, Aug. 15; and all participants will be recognized on Cameo’s big screen for a month.
“The Cameo is so much more than just a business and the foundation is so much more than a nonprofit,” Nevero said. “The Cameo belongs to everybody and you cannot bring it up on the street without someone saying, ‘The Cameo this’ or ‘The Cameo that.’ We have more than 100 years of history on Main Street.” When the Cameo opened in 1913, there were “the clip clop of horses and carriages at the opening,” Nevero added.
With the contest, “what we want to do is see what touches people’s hearts,” Buck said. “We’re looking for inspiration that encompasses in a phrase everything that the Cameo is.”
“For me personally, Cathy and the Cameo are so unique,” Nevero said. “Not many communities have a single screen theater. You can be culturally enriched, you can be inspired to change your life, you can relate to the drama in other people’s lives through all the documentaries, and all the speakers who come to the Cameo. You can be in this theater and have things touch you, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. What other place can you do that?”
Buck said the foundation raises between $250,000 to $300,000 a year to provide all the programs. “You can’t sell enough tickets (at $8) to finance these programs,” Buck said. “They have to be underwritten.”
When Buck brings in a speaker, she finds a place for them to stay in the Napa Valley, sometimes she covers their travel expenses, and different things also come up. “The Foundation’s role is to have a vehicle that through donations keeps the program running and keeps the Cameo a state-of-the-art theater,” she said.
In late May, during the Cameo’s Family Film Festival, von Hessert was given the assignment of livestreaming a program from Safari West. Afterward, a Safari West employee burst into the theater, bringing wild animals. The crowd was thrilled.
Buck said she recently put together a list of organizations that the Cameo and its Foundation has helped, either with fundraising events or co-sponsoring an event.
“You can’t think of anything, from science, to humanities, to sports, that we haven’t offered. We’re able to bring all people of all ages, all walks of life to the Cameo,” she added. “It’s the heart and soul of the community.”