Grants Available for Rural Community Movie Theaters' Digital Conversion

Rural community movie theaters seeking to enter the 21st century of film still have time to apply for a state grant program, which could bring $10,000 to $30,000 toward the cost of new digital equipment.

"Without local small town cinemas, there is a lack in local workforce retention and in enhancing the culture of the community," said Donald Zuckerman, Colorado Film Commissioner. "These theaters don't just show new films, but they're a meeting place for the community. It's a place for films, special events, fundraising, etc., for various community groups and to enhance local learning opportunities. Furthermore, moviegoing is an affordable activity for families and the elderly, and serve as a safe, secure venue for young people to enjoy."

Gates Family Foundation is among the partners that contributed to the pool of funds offered through the program, which has helped to upgrade 13 rural community theaters throughout the state since 2013. Other contributors include the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, Colorado Small Business Development Center Network, The Denver Film Society, Downtown Colorado, Inc., and the Boettcher Foundation.

A total of $148,000 still remains for eligible rural theaters looking to digitize their film equipment. In the past, theaters like Trinidad's Movie Picture Showhouse cost a mere $5,000 to update.

"The economic development benefits of this grant come in more ways than one. Not only is there direct job retention, but it's ensuring that smaller communities have a place to celebrate arts and culture," said Stephanie Copeland, Executive Director of OEDIT. "Theaters are major factors in rural economies, and we know many business prospects considering relocating to Colorado or expanding in the state look for vibrant downtown areas as an economic indicator for their decisions. Preserving these movie theaters has great spillover effects, and we hope these grants help not only these rural theaters thrive, but the local economy as well."

For more on the program or to apply, visit http://www.coloradosbdc.org/resources/theater.

The Ute Theater in Saguache, CO