About The Bemidji Community Theater Performing Arts Center and Its History

Bemidji Community Theater

(BCT), a non-profit corporation, debuted in December of 1981 when a group of friends recorded A Christmas Carol and broadcast it via radio. The first live performance occurred in conjunction with Art in the Park in 1982 with a public reading of Dirty Work at the Crossroads. After that, BCT was off and running.

In 2018, BCT purchased the old "Book World" building in downtown Bemidji and re-named it The Bemidji Community Theater Performing Arts Center.

The BCT Performing Arts Center at 316 Beltrami Avenue NW, Bemidji, MN, located next to the Chief Theater, established a new "theater district" in the downtown area, which paved the way for year-round performing arts.

Eventually BCT plans to offer workshops, classes, recitals, and small performances as well as their BCT Jr. Summer Theater Camp on site.

Image of Bemidji'd Paul and Babe Statue

Come watch, or come join in scenic Bemidji Minnesota!

We are a collection of folks who enjoy being involved with live theater - on stage or behind the stage. Usually there are two or three times as many unseen workers as there are visible actors.

Auditions are open to everyone, and membership does not affect who is cast. Watch here and in the Bemidji Pioneer for news of our upcoming shows.

Our mission is "To provide theater education and an opportunity for people to pursue their interests in theater through acting and stagecraft support activities, in productions by and for community members."

We learn by doing.

Actors on stage, younger girl bowing to older woman

People usually start as helpers in some way and gradually take over the major duties in time. The director of one show may be responsible for ticket sales the next time and may sit out completely after that or help paint scenery or distribute posters.

Many of the members who have been or are now active with BCT are also involved in other local theater groups: Paul Bunyan Playhouse, Bemidji High School, Bemidji State University, Headwaters Players, Listening Winds, Headwaters School of Music and the Arts. Past collaborations have occurred with The Paul Bunyan Playhouse, BSU, the Middle School, St. Philip’s School, and the Headwaters School of Music and the Arts.

Three girls dressed as elves in play dancing

Routine business and choice of a season are handled by a board of 6-12 Directors, with input from the general membership at an annual meeting. Management questions for each show are made by the Production Manager and the Director of that show. The Board meets once a month at the Bemidji Community Theater Performing Art Center.

BCT has produced shows in a variety of venues. Their first on stage production in 1982 of Friends & Lovers, which included a scene from Neil Simon's California Suite and The Doctor in Spite of Himself by Moliere, was at JW Smith Elementary School. Since then, they have utilized several different venues from BSU's Bridgeman Hall and Hagg-Sauer room 100 to a tent near Paul & Babe; BCT has continued to thrive in any element.

Actors on stage for a Annie play

Musicals were sporadic for a time but have now become a mainstay of their offerings. In 1991, BCT produced their first musical Anything Goes. Over the years, more people joined the group to share their time, talents, and interests. From acting and directing, to designing and building scenery, to advertising and selling tickets, community members work side-by-side learning new skills and passing on the ones they have.

BCT prides itself in encouraging local people to produce theater for the local community. New members are always welcome, whether they choose to be involved in only one show or active for the next 40 seasons.

Facility Rental Information


½ day $90 for members, $115 for non-members

Full day $140 for members, $165 for non-members

Main Level

½ day $140 for members, $190 for non-members

Full day $240 for members, $265 for non-members


Site manager included in fee

Reservation fee $20

Cleaning deposit $30

Damage deposit $250, held and returned if no damage done