State Partners with Foundations to Keep Colorado’s Community Theaters An Important Part of Rural Economies

Matching Grants Offer Operational Expense Relief for Theaters Weathering Pandemic and Studio Production Pause

DENVER – December 1, 2020 - Colorado’s Office of Film, Television and Media has partnered with the Boettcher Foundation, El Pomar Foundation, Gates Family Foundation, and The Colorado Educational and Cultural Facilities Authority to create the Rural Theater COVID Support Program. The grant program provides rural theaters with a vital source for economic relief for rent, mortgage and utility hardships suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant program is funded with $200,000 in Colorado philanthropic foundation funding matched with $200,000 from Colorado’s Economic Development Commission’s Strategic Fund.

“Our rural communities are essential to Colorado’s economy and rural movie and stage theaters provide economic and cultural benefits that strengthen our communities,” said Governor Jared Polis. “This rent relief helps ensure that the iconic theaters that have brought rural communities together for generations will do so again when circumstances allow for safe group gatherings across our state.”

Matching funds of $50,000 each from Gates Family Foundation, the Boettcher Foundation, and El Pomar Foundation, joins $10,000 from the Colorado Educational and Cultural Facilities Authority.

“Public-private partnerships like this rural theater grant program are proving vital to help ensure that these critical community assets survive the pandemic and thrive to serve generations to come,” said Tom Gougeon, President, Gates Family Foundation. “We’re glad to partner with our colleagues in philanthropy and the public sector to help make this support possible.”

Non-profit and privately-owned theaters in rural Colorado will be eligible to apply. Award distribution will be determined by the theaters' rural/remote location, proximity to other theaters, use as a multi-purpose venue (i.e., also acts as a community center, classroom, events rental venue, etc.), historic status, and overall financial need.

“In rural communities all around Colorado, the role that movie theatres play in civic life and community building cannot be overstated,” said El Pomar Foundation President and CEO, Kyle H. Hybl. “As the state continues to navigate COVID-related challenges, we believe that propping up these pillars of our communities will be key to ensuring better recovery in our rural areas and are pleased to once again partner with the State of Colorado and other foundations on this innovative initiative.”

Colorado's Office of Film, Television and media has partnered with the Small Business Development Center network to certify each theater’s business model, as well as provide additional business consulting for theaters in need. Applicants will need to register with the SBDC and meet with a local SBDC representative for a consultation session during the application process. Award allocation will be determined by a committee made up of three OEDIT staff members, an EDC member, and a representative from one of the supporting foundations. 

“We are proud to be a part of this collaborative effort,” said Katie Kramer, Boettcher Foundation president and CEO. “Rural theaters are community hubs that serve as movie houses and more. They are gathering and event spaces for arts, cultural, and educational programming. Their viability impacts main streets and local businesses across Colorado.”

Applications will open for submission on November 20 and close on December 11. The review process will take place in December with awards being distributed by mid-January 2021.