North Country movie theaters get $235k for digital upgrades

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The 56 Auto Drive-In in Massena, which won’t be receiving funding from this grant. Photo: Nora Flaherty

As you may know, the movies are going digital, by which I mean that very soon film studios won’t be distributing, well, film anymore. Instead, they’ll be distributing all their movies digitally. For many small, independent theaters, the need to switch to digital projection means spending a lot more than is affordable.

As far as the North Country Regional Economic Development Council is concerned, keeping those theaters going is a boon to economic development in our region. So (and not for the first time) the REDC has been awarded a big chunk of funding to use for making the digital conversion (actually, the North Country has done quite well in the competitive funding process generally — most recently, it was named a “Top Performer” for the third time and received $81.3 million for 70 projects.)

In a press release, the Go Digital or Go Dark campaign, which has been working to help eight theaters in our region make the digital transition and expand their programming, says $235 thousand in grants from the REDC program will go to several local theatres (from the press release):

The Strand Theatre, Plattsburgh

A historic movie house that’s been undergoing a complete building renovation by its owner, the North Country Cultural Center for the Arts, will be able to provide expanded content for the region, such as traveling film series, live streaming, and classic silent films (accompanied by a 1924 Wurlitzer organ). Grant total: $78,000.

The Hollywood, Au Sable Forks

A new partnership between the Hollywood and Tahawus Cultural Center will go to the purchase of a digital equipment package for 1 of the theater’s 2 screens, and expand cultural programming to preserve the economic vitality of Main Street.  Grant total: $70,000.

The Strand Theater, Schroon Lake

A new partnership between the Strand and the Adirondack Film Society will go toward the purchase of a digital equipment package for the theater and allow the Film Society to expand its annual Film Form and also to provide a new avenue for screening locally made content. Grant total: $70,000.

Indian Lake Theater

In addition, a fourth grant provides $17,000 for the Indian Lake Theater. The project involves training, professional development, equipment and support for a new position at the theater, which installed digital equipment this summer.

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7 Comments on “North Country movie theaters get $235k for digital upgrades”

  1. Pete Klein says:

    Movie, film, flick – all those good old terms are dying, just as record has died for music.
    Even books. Now we have Ebooks.
    The technology improves but does little for quality and sometimes even seems to diminish it.

  2. The Original Larry says:

    “…keeping those theaters going is a boon to economic development in our region.”

    Exactly how does that work? It’s a boon to the people who own them, to keep them on life support.

  3. Walker says:

    There are people who don’t want to live in an area that isn’t served by a movie theater. That’s how.

  4. Mervel says:

    Movie theaters, hotels, where does this end?

    Is there an open a process that all small-medium sized businesses in the North Country can compete or make a case for this type government funding? I hope that process is advertised, fair and done without partiality. I am assuming a proposal RFP/ process is available and open to all.

    Why not tourism industries, why not the Tupper Lake Ski slope volunteer group, the list goes on and on. Now maybe there was an open RFP process for this money and these are the winners and the process was open and people just not bid. Otherwise to me this is a real issue.

  5. Mervel says:

    I wish this site had an edit function!

  6. mary randall says:

    I thought Indian Lake theater had raised the money via contributions So therefore where does this money go?

  7. Walker says:

    Last paragraph of the article: “In addition, a fourth grant provides $17,000 for the Indian Lake Theater. The project involves training, professional development, equipment and support for a new position at the theater, which installed digital equipment this summer.”

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