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Scarecrow VideoScarecrow Video

Our Mission

Scarecrow Video is dedicated to championing the indispensable role of film arts in community, cultural, and civic life.

Our Goals

We are committed to building film literacy, ensuring full public access to the largest privately held video and physical media archive in the United States, advancing cultural and educational enrichment through community-based programming, and supporting the arts capacity of civic groups, educational institutions, and nonprofits in the Puget Sound area.

Our Vision

Scarecrow Video is founded upon a very basic value: We believe all people, everywhere, should have the opportunity to access the film arts. Film is a portal to a wider world of culture including drama, entertainment, music, literature, human diversity, history, science, travel and much more. Scarecrow Video ensures people have the resources and opportunities to explore the world of film and build their own arts-rich communities.

Uniting people and creating communities around film is what gave Scarecrow Video life in 1988. Today Scarecrow is building upon this legacy of community impact. We want to share our expertise and stoke enthusiasm for the unique and compelling art form that is film.

Getting to know Scarecrow Video

We are a video collection of artistic, historical and cultural significance

We are the largest publicly accessible video collection in the U.S. Scarecrow offers 145,000+ titles, three times the amount available through all major streaming services combined and a number that puts us in league with the likes of The American Film Institute and The UCLA Film and Television Archive. Our collection represents 128 years of cultural history, and the breadth of the entire globe with films from 138 countries and over 126 languages other than English.

Comparing our holdings to institutions like The Library of Congress and the Paley Center as well as the WorldCat database reveals that we hold thousands of rare and out-of-print titles. Of our 100 rarest titles:

  • 44 may be the only publicly accessible copies in existence;
  • 33 are held by 5 or fewer public collections; and
  • 88 aren’t even held by the Library of Congress.

We are what true diversity looks like. In an age where a handful of corporations dictate the availability of streaming content, we keep the full spectrum of diverse voices available. The cost of online convenience is a narrowing of voices; homogenized, mainstream content; and catalogs that continue to shrink.

We offer films by and about historically marginalized storytellers and we feature these works and Hollywood blockbusters with equal prominence. Our collection is curated to highlight areas often overlooked, including LGBTQ and local filmmakers; a robust documentary collection that chronicles history, social justice issues, women’s studies and civil rights triumphs; and an unparalleled foreign section.

“Movies are the most powerful empathy machine in all the arts. When I go to a great movie, I can live somebody else’s life for a while. I can walk in somebody else’s shoes. I can see what it feels like to be a member of a different gender, a different race, a different economic class, to live in a different time, to have a different belief.” - Roger Ebert

We exist for the safekeeping, maintenance and expansion of this valuable collection

We are a critical caretaker of our cultural history. It's estimated that 90% of American films made before 1929 were destroyed in the transition to talkies, and half of all films made before 1950 are lost to time. We stand at a unique moment where we can learn from past mistakes and stem further losses brought on by changing technology and viewing habits.

Scarecrow’s collection continues to expand every week, bringing in approximately 3,000 - 4,000 new titles annually representing both new and historical content. We anticipate maintaining this growth for the foreseeable future along with our commitment to representing the full range of cinematic voices.

Scarecrow Video is the future of accessible media. In this new age, we are re-defining the significance of physical media, and paving the way for its place in our future. As technology changes our landscape, we must continue to fight to preserve one of the most important sources of empathy we have, movies.

This collection is for the benefit of the general public

In 2022 Scarecrow was proud to serve over 19,000 film lovers annually through low-cost rentals and free screenings and outreach programs. Our patron base covers 97% of King County, 99% of Snohomish County and 27 states through the U.S. Our supporters come from a broad range of income, age, and cultures.

We are a vital part of our community. Scarecrow Video was honored with The Stranger’s Genius Award for Film in 2015. In 2016, we were chosen as Seattle’s top legacy organization in a poll conducted by Councilmember Herbold’s office. In 2017, The Office of Arts & Culture and Office of the Mayor made generous contributions to Scarecrow representing the city's commitment to our work. We have also gotten the attention of a number of different news outlets, and you can check those articles out on our Press page.

“They are truly caretakers of our shared culture, history and film arts, and undeniably a Seattle institution.” – Councilmember Lisa Herbold and Kate Becker, former Director of the Office of Film and Music; guest editorial published in The Stranger

Scarecrow is also an important resource in the Seattle film community, regularly partnering with non-profit organizations like SIFF, NWFF, The Grand Illusion, and many local film festivals to promote film arts year-round.

We are a resource for educators and students. We regularly assist educators from Cornish College, University of Washington, Seattle University, The Film School, Seattle Film Institute, Ballard High School, and others through tours of our collection, research assistance, guest speaking in classes, and advice for curriculum development.

“I could not teach my classes and address historical diversity, if I did not have…Scarecrow Video. Not only do they have more diverse films than any streaming service or disc mail order, but they include thousands of titles that are out of print and impossible to find anywhere else.” --- Janice Findley, History Instructor at Seattle Film Institute

We are committed to full access to the collection

As a nonprofit, we are dedicated to championing the essential art of cinematic storytelling as well as the vital importance of physical media. We accomplish this through low-cost rentals and by using the archive for unique, no-cost community programming that includes free screenings and outreach programs.

We provide a robust line-up of virtual events – which consists of online film clubs, presentations that explore film's intersection with social issues, lecture series delving into the history and hallmarks of specific genres. These events are free and open to all and provide an online space for film lovers nationwide to convene and share their passion. We also have an active YouTube channel that showcases our web series, VIVA PHYSICAL MEDIA. This show offers film recommendations and further opportunities for viewers to engage with the deep wells of cultural history that our collection represents.

Our outreach programs allow us to think about new ways to use the collection throughout the community. Our current outreach programs include:

· Children’s Hour: We provide arts education programming through our Children's Hour--a blend of traditional story-time enhanced with clips from the collection, experiments, and crafts all centered on themes of cultural diversity, inclusion, and empowerment. Beginning in 2020, this program went online and is available on our YouTube channel for all to access.

· Outdoor Movies: Every summer, we produce our popular series of outdoor films that gathers viewers to enjoy family-friendly fare and pre-show arts activities in tranquil surroundings. These free, public events open windows into other cultures through the power of story and creativity, all in a beautiful setting for families.

· Silver Screeners: We enrich the lives of older adults through our Silver Screeners events. This consists of films, talks, and gathering opportunities to senior and community centers throughout King County, Washington. We serve six physical locations and host two virtual film clubs for older LGBTQIA+ participants. Programming is personalized for each audience.

“Working with Scarecrow Video for screenings and discussions helps us promote and charter anti-isolation, socialization events for our community in a consistent and dependable manner. It is one of the few events that is curated for multi-generational participants and allows us to bring together inter-sectional and inter-generational community through socialization, dialogue, and fun!” --- Beatrix Miguelez, GenPRIDE

We can’t do it without you.

Scarecrow Video relies on the generous support of our members and donors. Please join us and become a Physical Media Champion today!