Auburn State Theatre

On December 26, 1930, the Auburn State Theatre opened its doors for the first time. At the grand opening, attendees marveled at the beautiful interior, furnishings, and sound projection. The art deco movie palace had 1,325 and seats and would become the cultural center of the City of Auburn for many years, serving as the location of vaudeville shows, school band concerts, parades, hundreds of movie showings, and a multitude of memories for citizens of the Auburn area. Due to the rural nature of the area, it was the region's primary entertainment destination for young and old for decades. Until the 1960s, the theater operated as a single screen movie theater with a balcony. The building was extensively remodeled in 1972, after having been closed for five years. The front part of the auditorium was divided into two theaters, and the rear of the auditorium was converted to a mall of commercial rental spaces. Until 2006, the theater ran as a cabaret-style movie house.

In 2004, Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center, Inc. (APPAC) purchased the historic building. APPAC, now officially operating as the Auburn State Theatre, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization formed by a group of arts-minded citizens in 2001 with the purpose of maintaining and operating a performing arts center for the community of Auburn and the surrounding area. The Auburn State Theatre began a building renovation which included an original art deco replication of the marquee, tower, and façade in 2008 through a partnership among the Auburn State Theatre, City of Auburn, Auburn Rotary, and generous donations by community leaders. The theater reopened as a 130 seat multi-use venue in the spring of 2009. The impetus was to demonstrate a need for the vitality, inspiration, joy, and reflection that only a theater can bring. Enhanced by its setting in the Sierra foothills, the Auburn State Theatre is becoming a bustling center for film, live music, entertainment, and civic events. As of January 1, 2018 nearly 65,000 patrons have attended events at this venue since its expansion to 340 seats in 2014, from a 100 mile radius. There is strong evidence that the Auburn State Theatre serves as an arts hub for Placer County. Producing live music and events under the title of On Stage at the State and a film series titled Cinema at the State has led to collaboration with various local groups and thus a real need for the venue by outside organizations. These include Protect American River Canyon, Placer Community Theatre, The Auburn Symphony, Take Note Troupe, AAUW, League of Women Voters, Placer Land Trust, Foothill Farmers' Market, Placer County Youth Commission, and Native Ground Films.


The historic Auburn State Theatre enhances the quality of life and cultural awareness of our community by providing performing arts, film, and educational experiences.


Unrestricted operational funding is one of the greatest needs for an organization like the historic Auburn State Theatre. Each year the Auburn State Theatre presents entertainment and programs in the areas of Cinema at the State and On Stage at the State. The State Theater Acting Company and community non-profit and commercial entities rent the Auburn State Theatre for their productions. This combination of programming brings well rounded entertainment with a diverse audience stream. Because the Auburn State Theatre attracts over 20,000 patrons per year, there is a larger demand for maintenance, cleaning, and repairs due to this high volume of usage.

This need concerns one of the largest ongoing demands on the non-profit organization managing and maintaining the Auburn State Theater. It regards maintenance and improvements of the theater space, including the stage, wings, and green room. It is called Keep the Audience Cool and the Entertainers/Musicians Comfortable; this project is ongoing. The theater stays cool in the summer, but is not warm enough in the winter; especially on stage. An HVAC unit has been installed. Further enhancements to the physical plant are required in the upcoming year.

Enhance the Experience! This program provides funding for acoustical treatment and theatrical equipment for sound, lighting, projection, and staging. This area of expansion is always a need for a growing theater that is striving to become more diverse and have the equipment that audiences and entertainers expect. In 2018, the Auburn State Theatre raised funding for this expansion through the annual Cocktails and Cinema event. Some needed technology items have been purchased. The Auburn State Theatre is still in need of a new digital projector with 8,000 lumens, which is standard for many film festivals.

The Auburn State Theatre appreciates in-kind donations for ongoing upkeep and enhancement of its historic building. These donations include items such as high-quality music stands, theatrical lighting, computers, office supplies, guitar stands, clip lights for musicians using music stands, and many other pieces of equipment.

The Auburn State Theatre enjoys and appreciates the talents of volunteers in "front of house" positions such as ushers and ticket takers. With the expansion of its concession counter, a larger number of volunteers is needed making popcorn and serving refreshments in the buoyant atmosphere created by local craft beers and wines, organic popcorn, freshly baked cookies, and old fashioned movie treats. During the week, volunteer teams hit the streets to put up posters and assist with the all-important task of getting the "word out" about the great entertainment at the Auburn State Theatre.

Organization Data


Organization name

Auburn State Theatre

other names


Tax id (EIN)


Mission Category

Arts & Culture

Operating Budget


Organization Need

Funding: Unrestricted, In-Kind Donations, Other, Technology, Volunteers


985 Lincoln Way
Auburn, CA 95603

Service areas 0

Placer, CA, US

Sacramento, CA, US

Nevada, CA, US

El Dorado, CA, US





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