Let the show go on at Towne Cinema
A round of applause for the individuals and businesses of Vernon and surrounding communities who have all helped in efforts to save the Vernon Towne Cinema on 30th Avenue in Downtown Vernon.
The original community fundraising goal of $75,000 has now been surpassed with the support totaling just over $100,000.
Hitting this initial goal means the Okanagan Screen Arts Society will be able to make immediate, short-term repairs and required upgrades in preparation for a planned reopening of the historic cinema after Labour Day.
“The repairs include an immediate fix to the digital projector, fixing the auditorium lighting system, purchasing a new point of sales system, installing new seats in the theatre, and much needed repairs to the bathrooms,” says society member Scott John.
As well, there will be a new Vernon Towne Cinema website with online ticketing capability, something the theatre has never had before.
“It also gives the society enough breathing room to go through the transition period of taking over the lease and operations of the theatre.”
The non-profit Okanagan Screen Arts Society is expected to take over the lease to the building on Aug. 1, 2021 when the current theatre operator retires. Meanwhile, efforts are being made to secure further funding for other planned work.
“The next steps on the fundraising side will be to pursue several grant opportunities to match the great support we have received from the local community, both from individuals and businesses. If successful in those grants, we will be able to take on some larger renovation projects.”
A priority of the society is to make the venue accessible for those with mobility challenges. They are also planning on raising enough cash for a renovation of the lobby and repairs to the historical neon sign and marquee. “There are plans to add a stage and infrastructure for hosting live performances to go along with the great slate of film programming we are planning.” notes Board member Susan Hodgson.
Like all movie theatres in B.C., the Vernon Towne Cinema has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and a provincial health order put in place last November banning indoor gatherings to stop the spread of the virus.
Locals are being urged to come out and enjoy movies at the Vernon Towne Cinema once it reopens to ensure it remains a viable and thriving part of Vernon’s downtown. “We have heard repeatedly from the public that they love the Towne, but haven't been there in years. We hope that by expanding the programming we will be able to appeal to more local groups and demographics,” says John.
“Many people have great memories of their time at the Towne, and we look forward to making more amazing memories.” If you are a group who wants to partner to host events or theme evenings for special programming or for further information, please contact Scott John at SaveOurTowne@gmail.com.