Saving Vernon's Towne Theatre focus of community effort | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Saving Vernon's Towne Theatre focus of community effort

FILE. Vernon Towne Theatre.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/GOFUNDME
December 20, 2020 - 9:00 PM

A piece of Vernon history is about to undergo a transition but the people taking on that change are turning to the community to help make it happen.

The Okanagan Screen Arts Society has hopes to take over the Towne Cinema, which has been operating on Main Street in Vernon since 1929.  Originally a dance hall, it converted to a Motion Picture Cinema in 1938. Now it's about to change again.

“We are now facing the prospect of losing this historic venue and an important economic anchor for the downtown core,”  Christopher John wrote in a GoFundMe on behalf of the society.

“Many of our residents have fond memories of this theatre-going back more than 90 years as it has been a mainstay of our downtown core.  We want to make sure that future generations can share those memories to connect our past and future.”

The GoFundMe goes on to say the current owner is now looking to take down his shingle and retire after many decades in the theatre business. 

“He has offered to hand over the keys of the theatre to us at the non-profit Okanagan Screen Arts Society, and donate the equipment for us to run it,” the GoFundMe reads.

“He has a strong desire to see the venue remain a vibrant community-run arts and entertainment amenity and has been working hard even during this shutdown to make it better.  We have been using the time to install some new seating that had been acquired from another theatre that closed down.  In the process he gave away the old theatre seats from the 1940s and 1980s, many of you came down to get a piece of the history and shared your stories and memories of growing up going to this amazing venue.“

Its historic value is obvious but the group wants to save it because of the potential future.

The Okanagan Screen Arts Society is entirely volunteer-run and operated, and has been hosting successful weekly Arts events for several years, bringing approximately 11,000 audience members to enjoy the downtown core each year.  Through this crowdfunding campaign as well as other corporate and private donations and sponsorships it is hoping to raise at least $75,000. 

“We have raised significant funds within the organization and from public grants, but there are some large renovations/upgrades we will be looking to complete to the venue,” the GoFundMe reads.

Needed upgrades include renovating the bathrooms, making the venue accessible for those with mobility challenges, rebuilding the original stage to allow for small live performances and start-up costs.

To learn more access the GoFundMe here.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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