Historic Jacksonville silent film studio could get $1 million from city in upcoming budget

Historic Jacksonville silent film studio could get $1 million from city in upcoming budget

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A historic Jacksonville silent film studio could get $1 million from the city in the upcoming budget.

Norman Studios in Arlington is the only surviving film studio complex in Jacksonville.

Action News Jax got the latest draft of Jacksonville’s proposed Capital Improvement Program.

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It’s a list of projects and funding Mayor Lenny Curry may introduce the City Council on Monday as part of his proposed budget.

It includes $1 million to renovate Norman Studios’ production building, to help it transform into a silent film museum, education center and screening room.

“A million dollars would be an absolute renovation of this entire interior of this property,” said Norman Studios Silent Film Museum, Inc. Development Officer Rita Reagan.

Right now, the building is gutted.

It has no air conditioning, plumbing or elevator. It also needs a new electric system installed.

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That’s what the city money would pay for.

Filmmaker Richard Norman became famous for making “race films” at the studio.

He created the movies for African American audiences, with African American casts playing roles that challenged stereotypes.

“The civil rights movement hadn’t really started in the '20s. But it was nascent at that time. It was just coming awake. And the audiences themselves had to believe in themselves. So, they had to see themselves in the movies, because the movies were the big thing at this time,” said Reagan.

For Reagan, transforming the studio is a way to not only preserve the city’s cultural history, but ensure the studio plays a role in Jacksonville’s cultural future.