You may think the Palm Springs Cultural Center is just the Camelot Theater and the movies on the marquee, but it’s much more than that. Founded in 2007 by local philanthropists Ric and Rozene Supple, the Cultural Center has grown to not only include the Palm Springs International Film Festival, but a speaker’s series, book clubs and the vintage and farmer’s markets.
The Camelot Theater, a Midcentury Modern showcase that was once part of the defunct Palm Springs Mall complex, had fallen on hard times, when the Supples bought, restored and reconfigured it. In 2017, they gave to the Palm Springs Cultural Center. (The Palm Springs Mall, abandoned for years, has recently been acquired by the College of the Desert. Construction is underway for a new Palm Springs campus.)
A growing list of programs
The Camelot Theateris one of the only venues in the Coachella Valley where you can see foreign, art house and indie films. It is also the home, not only of the Palm Springs International Film Festivalin January, but of several other film festivals, including Cinema Diverse, the Palm Springs LGBTQ Film Festival; the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival; and the American Documentary Film Festival.
In June, when the crowds are gone for the summer, the Cultural Center hosts the Palm Springs International Short Film Festival, or ShortFest, the largest short film event in North America.
Besides first-run movies and festival screenings, patrons can enjoy special event series, such as Among Friends Community, featuring interactive musicals preceded by a bar reception, costumed guests and vendors (2019 movies included Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Greaseand Chicago). An affiliated program, Community Theater, hosts films and TV shows, for example in 2019, it featured summer screenings of season three of Stranger Thingsand two seasons of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, all with a full bar, café and concessions.
The Desert Film Societypromotes world cinema in the Coachella Valley, providing members and guests the opportunity to view the latest in art, global and independent film. One-time screenings of global festival honorees are shown Saturday mornings at the Camelot and are free to members. The Society follows up each film with facilitated discussions.
More than movies
Want to learn French? The Cultural Center has partnered withAlliance Francaiseto offer adult French classes at the Center.
Like to read and discuss books? Try Outbook, an LGBTQ book club and mixer at the Center.
Looking for locally grown produce, or a vintage credenza for your Midcentury Modern home? Visit the Farmer’s Marketin the Cultural Center’s parking lot October through May. The Vintage Markethosts scores of vendors the first Sunday of every month, also from October through May.
The Cultural Center hosts Palm Springs Speaks, a speaker series at the Richards Center for the Arts(another gift of Rozene Supple, this one to the Palm Springs Unified School District). The series has hosted such notables as Jane Fonda, Rick Steves and Robert Reich. The Richards Center is a new, large auditorium on the Palm Springs High School campus, across the street from the Cultural Center.
The Cultural Center is also the location for the Fourth of July fireworks and celebration.
In 2019, the Cultural Center becomes the venue for the Stonewall Humanitarian Awards, an event sponsored by the Transgender Community Coalition, which presents awards to those who work to improve the lives of LGBTQ people.