ALBANY — The state has allocated $400,000 for the North Country Regional Economic Development Council’s Digital Film Conversion Loan Fund.
The money will help small theaters in the North Country convert projection equipment to digital technologies.
The short-term loan fund will be administered by Development Authority of the North Country and will be an added resource for theaters, in addition to the community fundraising efforts already underway.
“Across the Adirondacks, movie theaters have been struggling to take on costly upgrade projects to stay in business,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press release.
“Faced with this reality, businesses and community leaders came together through the Regional Council initiative to create the Digital Film Conversion Loan Fund, which will help small-town cinemas in the North Country modernize their equipment and remain competitive.
“This is another example of how public-private partnerships are helping to promote economic growth in communities across the state.”
In June, the North Country Regional Economic Development Council, through Empire State Development, approved the reassignment of 2012 funds for a previously identified priority.
Those funds were redirected to support the “Go Digital or Go Dark” Campaign, an initiative of the Adirondack North Country Association and the Adirondack Film Society working together to ensure the future of movie theaters in small communities.
The Digital Film Conversion Loan Fund will help bridge the funding gap so theaters can convert to digital before 35mm film is no longer available.
As remaining funds are raised and upgrade projects are completed, the Development Authority will re-lend the funds to businesses across the region for startup or expansion projects.
In addition to the loan fund, the Adirondack Film Society and the Adirondack North Country Association have led community fundraising efforts to save 10 theaters in the region through its “Go Digital or Go Dark” campaign.
In just two months, its efforts have brought in enough funds to save three local theaters. ANCA is helping to coordinate a community-based campaign, as well as outreach to major donors.
Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams said his agency “is pleased to support the creation of this loan fund that will help keep local theaters open for business. Thanks to the efforts of the governor’s North Country Regional Council, DANC and ANCA, the issue of digital conversion has been elevated as a priority, allowing these small cinemas the opportunity to make the necessary upgrades and remain a community staple.”
Sen. Betty Little said the funding effort “is another example of how government, local businesses and community leaders can come together to create new opportunities and the potential for economic growth.
“We are grateful that Governor Cuomo has acknowledged and addressed the needs of these main street establishments. This loan and the community efforts led by the Adirondack Film Society and ANCA will breathe new life into these small businesses.”
ANCA Executive Kate Fish said the project “has demonstrated, yet again, the strength of our North Country communities.
“From the start of this project, with the support of Adirondack Bank, Community Bank, Kinney Drugs and Stewart’s Shops, all regional businesses and the creative efforts of local filmmakers to create a compelling movie trailer, to the efforts of community leaders and philanthropists to raise the funds through challenge grants and personal donations, these theaters are being saved.
“Donations from across the country solidify the importance of these theaters to community members, seasonal residents and tourists alike,” she said.
Tupper Lake’s State Theater is undergoing digital conversion now, she noted, “thanks to an overwhelming response from the tight-knit community.
“This loan fund will help theaters bridge the gap between funds raised and the total cost of conversion.”