After the Vernon Towne Cinema was forced to close due to COVID-19 restrictions regarding indoor gatherings, the historic cinema will now reopen after Labour Day thanks to the support of local businesses and residents.
A fundraiser was initiated to raise $75,000, in order to make repairs and upgrades to the historic cinema on 30th Avenue, but, the goal was surpassed bringing in more than $100,000.
Okanagan Screen Arts Society member Scott John, said the repairs include fixing the digital projector, the auditorium lighting system, purchasing a new point of sales system, installing new seats in the theatre, as well as repairs to the bathrooms.
A new website will also be launched allowing for online ticketing capability, something the cinema 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,” said John.
The non-profit Okanagan Screen Arts Society is expected to take over the lease to the building on Aug. 1, when the current theatre operator retires. Meanwhile, efforts are being made to secure further funding for other planned work, stated John.
“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,” he said.
The cinema will also ensure it is accessible for those with mobility challenges. Outside, the historical neon sign and marquee will be repaired along with upgrades to the lobby if enough money is raised.
John is hopeful a stage will be added along with the infrastructure for hosting live performances.
“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,” said John.
The non-profit Okanagan Screen Arts Society announced it will be taking over operations at the historic cinema site on June 1.