Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that $400,000 in funding is being made available for the North Country Regional Economic Development Council (NCREDC) Digital Film Conversion Loan Fund to 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 (DANC) 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, Governor Cuomo said. 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 (NCREDC), 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 (ANCA) and the Adirondack Film Society working together to ensure the future of small community movie theaters. 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, DANC will relend the funds to businesses across the region for start-up or expansion projects.
In addition to the loan fund, the Adirondack Film Society and the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) 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 & Commissioner Kenneth Adams said, ESD 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 Governors 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.
Senator Betty Little said, Securing this funding to help upgrade movie theaters in the North Country 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.
Michelle L. Capone, Director of Regional Development for the Development Authority of the North Country, said, The Authority is pleased to be partnering with New York State and the Regional Council to provide assistance to our regions small theaters to maintain their long-term viability in our communities.
Kate Fish, Executive Director of ANCA, said, This project has demonstrated, yet again, the strength of our North Country communities as they have rallied to save their main street theaters. 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 film makers 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. Tupper Lake's State Theater is undergoing digital conversion right now, 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. The Go Digital or Go Dark campaign is a true testament to the strength of grassroots efforts and community spirit in the North Country. ANCA has been gratified by the level of support that we see across the region for this project and by the State's investment in the form of this loan fund.
This is a perfect example of how the Regional Council system is allowing the North Country to address its special needs, said Garry Douglas, President of the North Country Chamber of Commerce and Co-Chair of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council. In small communities across the region, we still have a number of independent cinemas which are a special part of their downtowns and their quality of life. Many of these are operated by dedicated owners, committed to their communities. But without some help for these owners in making this very costly conversion, we will lose these community assets forever. This new loan fund is part of the solution, along with the fundraising efforts being led by ANCA.
Governor Cuomo recognizes that New York States economic renaissance depends as much on the vitality of its villages, towns and rural communities as it does in its large cities. Movie theaters are Main Street anchors across the North Country and add to the quality of life and community spirit that we want to sustain, said Anthony G. Collins, president of Clarkson University and Co-Chair of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council. We applaud the Adirondack North Country Association and Adirondack Film Society for coordinating private community-based fundraising efforts with the theaters and the partnership with the Development Authority of the North Country to provide a viable financing strategy for these small business owners.