By Lawrence Powell
King's Theatre in Annapolis Royal could be 100 per cent digital soon, thanks to a fundraising campaign that exceeded its goal and brought the community together to help ensure a bright future for the well-known arts and culture venue.
FastForward, the King's Theatre Digital Technology Campaign, was launched last October and hoped to raise $80,000 to replace the theatre's aging 35-milimetre film projectors with new, state of the art technology. By Friday, June 15 $83,500 had be raised and theatre manager Geoff Keymer said King's could go digital in the next few months.
At a funding announcement last week, Keymer said film is becoming more difficult to secure. Where 20 prints of any given film were available in Atlantic Canada a few years ago, now there are only about seven. A particular film requested could be available the next day or it could be the next month, he said.
He said people in the industry expected the crunch would come in 2014 or 2015 but thanks to the technology in the movie Avatar, the move to digital speeded up. "Digital is crucial if we're going to continue to show movies here," Keymer said.
More Than Movies
But digital capability won't mean just being able to keep up with the latest movies through its regular movies and the local film society's offerings. Keymer said it will allow the theatre to do other things, like providing backdrops to other events -- projections for dance performances, airing independant films, showing DVDs, and even putting up digital photos. The cinema-quality digital projection system will enable the theatre to deliver more contemporary and sophisticated live performances, expand its youth engagement and community outreach, and increase income opportunities.
Wayne Currie, chair of the King's Theatre Society board, thanked the community for its support, including the Nicholson Foundation, the King's Theatre Foundation, and numerous individuals who brought in cheques and left them on Keymer's desk.
"We could not have done this without community support," Currie said, adding that by contributing, people were saying 'we have something to preserve."
Jim Fischer, chair of the theatre foundation, agreed. And his board agreed with a contribution of $5,000 when the community campaign had raised its first $5,000. And Annapolis County also chipped in $5,000.
West Nova MP Greg Kerr announced that the federal government was adding $35,585 to the campaign through the Department of Canadian Heritage's Canada Cultural Spaces Fund. That brought the campaign over its objective.
Kerr said the original application for the funds did hit a snag when government officials thought that King's Theatre was a simple movie house. When the cultural and artistic components of King's were explained, the application went through with many in Ottawa in awe of what a small venue in a small town could offer and accomplish.
He said Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore was quite interested, asking how does a small town do it? Kerr said he's glad they took a second look at the application. "It's not a movie theatre," Kerr said, "it's a cultural presentation centre."
"By supporting this new technology, our government is delivering on its commitment to strengthen our economy and support our arts, culture, and heritage," Moore said in a media release.