The Panida theater opened as a vaudeville and movie house in 1927. Then, as now, its name reflected its mission: to showcase great performers and performances for audiences of the PANhandle of IDAho.
Featuring local and global film festivals, movies and presentations, local dance recitals and professional dance performances, comedy, live theatre, educational and informative speakers and presentations, local and touring artists for music concerts, and more.
Opening night patrons marveled at both the distinctive architecture and lush interior furnishings of the Panida, and the press praised its Spanish Mission styling for beauty which is unique to any other building In the city of Sandpoint, and which can be equaled by few theaters in the west. Decades of glory faded into years of neglect before, major fundraising and restoration efforts by the Sandpoint community repopened the Panida In 1985. Today, with projects to preserve and improve the theater ongoing, the Panida is on the National Register of Historic Places and has received special recognition from the governor of Idaho, the Idaho Commission of the Arts, the Idaho Centennial Commission and the U.S. Department of the Interior. Honored with both “Take Pride in Idaho” and “America” awards, the Panida has also received the coveted “Orchid Award” for historic preservation from the Idaho Historic Preservation Council.
The Panida is the cornerstone of cultural activities for the entire Sandpoint community, and its successful restoration has inspired similar projects throughout the region. Whether hosting local performers, recording stars such as Bonnie Raitt, Arlo Guthrie, Wynton Marsalis and Mitch Miller, or internationally renowned artists like Gunther Schuller, the Spokane Symphony, San Francisco Opera, the Cavini String Quartet or the Paris Chamber Ensemble . . . the Panida theater continues to bring the best in entertainment to the people of North Idaho. What lured audiences to the Panida for vaudeville shows and the “talkies” still brings crowds in today: the promise of performance. For nearly three-quarters of a century, the Panida has made good on that promise. Its easy to see – and hear – why the Panida is so treasured by Sandpoint. There’s truly not a bad seat in this house that can hold 500. And its acoustic perfection makes the Panida a delight for performers and audience-goers alike. From intimate recital to Broadway-size musical, a 50’ movie screen and updated sound board make for epic film presentations, educational talks and presentations in a grand setting, dance recitals to master ballet performance, it’s an ideal venue. That’s why so many touring troupes go out of their way to book the Panida, bringing arts and entertainment to Sandpoint that would otherwise be available no closer than Spokane.
As the area’s only full feature performing arts facility, the Panida enjoys an exceptionally high audience rate for its audience base: in a community of just 7900, the house size averages nearly 200 at each of over 362 available calendar days for performances scheduled annually. With an emphasis on bringing in a broad variety of arts and entertainment the Panida continues to be the heart of our downtown, our community and the gem of north Idaho. A 501c3 nonprofit they rely heavily on in-kind and financial support to keep the heart beating to benefit all.