In late 2012, Downtown Colorado, Inc. was alerted by members of the unintended consequences of an industry-mandated conversion to digital projection by the end of 2013. Although distribution costs are lower in the digital format, the cost of conversion places a heavy financial burden on small, independently owned and rural movie houses. Rural movie operators have been faced with the challenge of investing tens of thousands of dollars or potentially closing their doors.
In recognition of the importance of local theaters to community vibrancy, DCI began the Save Our Screens (SOS) initiative. SOS has linked the resources of state agencies and private foundations to provide funding and technical assistance to rural theaters that are looking to convert to digital systems.
During the spring and summer of 2013, DCI identified thirty theaters in rural communities across Colorado. Consultants and interns then surveyed each one to establish the status of digital conversion and governance style in order to determine the needs of the theaters overall.
The following SOS services are provided by DCI through the Gates Foundation:
- Funding opportunities through state agencies and private foundations
- Creative fundraising strategies
- Community buy-in planning
- Public-private partnership development guidance
- Long-range governance planning
- Series of Cultural Facilities and Theaters Summits
- Networking and information-sharing opportunities