Best Video Film & Cultural Center, or BVFCC, announced today that Executive Director Hank Hoffman plans to retire at the end of June, 2022. Hoffman, who is 65, took over from Richard Brown as Executive Director in 2019 after four years as BVFCC’s Programming Director. He has been instrumental in guiding the organization from its roots as the independent video store Best Video—founded by Hank Paper in 1985—to its current incarnation as a dynamic nonprofit cultural center.
A 501(c)3 cultural nonprofit since November, 2015, BVFCC boasts a collection of 40,000 titles and—despite limitations imposed by the pandemic—hosted over 100 music and film events so far in 2021.
“Our motto is ‘bringing people, film, and music together.’ Best Video Film & Cultural Center has thrived because we appeal to folks’ need for real in-person community and bonding over culture in these days of virtual life,” says Hoffman. “It’s been immensely gratifying to have had a hand in reinventing this institution so it could be relevant in a new era.”
Hoffman began work as a clerk at Best Video in 1994, when the venerable outpost for film and music lovers competed directly with Blockbuster and Tommy K’s and the dominant format was VHS tapes. BVFCC has adapted, building on the reservoir of community support for Best Video and expanding its mission to become a cultural hub in the region.
“Hank has tirelessly devoted his time, talent and dedication to advancing BVFCC’s mission. I truly appreciate how seamlessly both he and Richard led the organization in its transformation into the strong community treasure of today. Hank’s deep roots and connections within the local music scene has added to the depth of broad offerings each week,” says BVFCC Board President David Margolis. “I have enjoyed working with Hank for the past few years and wish him a well-deserved and healthy joyful retirement. But I also hope and he stays connected to BVFCC as we move forward with new leadership.”
Hoffman initiated the evolution into a community-based cultural nonprofit in 2011 when he suggested the booking of music shows as a way to keep supporters of Best Video engaged as streaming affected rental traffic. Programming has since expanded from one day a week to encompass hundreds of events a year. Along with music performances, BVFCC hosts film screenings, literary readings, lectures on film, and community forums. At the same time, BVFCC has maintained and expanded its archive of movies, available to the public and its growing community of members, a treasure trove for everyone from local families to cinephiles. In 2020, Hoffman recruited a diverse steering committee of community members, Town of Hamden cultural officials, and the Spring Glen Church to put on the Hamden Black Film Mini-Series, showcasing movies relevant to the Black experience in the USA.
As a participant in the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven’s annual Great Give fundraising marathon, BVFCC has weathered the pandemic through a generous outpouring of financial support. During the Great Give, held in early May, BVFCC was honored to receive the support of over 520 donors, finishing first among over 400 participating nonprofits from the greater New Haven area.
In January, 2022, BVFCC was awarded a $25,800 Operating Support Grant from the CT Cultural Fund, administered by CT Humanities and the CT Office of the Arts.
The BVFCC Board of Directors has assembled a subcommittee to conduct a wide-ranging search for an Executive Director to lead the organization into the future. The group looks to find an individual with an enthusiasm for its mission; knowledge of film and music; nonprofit administrative experience; and a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“I’m excited at the thought of handing off the baton to someone who can build on our accomplishments and deepen Best Video’s relationship to the community. BVFCC has a bright future ahead and I look forward to being part of that process,” Hoffman said.