Movie theaters are a quintessential experience in people’s lives, as a meeting place, as a family gathering, as a pastime that transcends age, race, class and status. But as movie distributions have made the move to digital, some small, rural theaters have struggled to keep up with the times, many citing prohibiting costs of converting equipment to show new films. With less new content to show and thus less community interest, these cinemas are finding it difficult to keep afloat–but the Office of Economic Development and International Trade has taken steps to change that.
With the Rural Theater Digital Conversion Grant, launched in 2013, small-town movie theaters can apply for grants to cover the costs of converting to digital equipment that is now required for new film content, regardless of their for- or nonprofit status. Grants range from $10,000 to $30,000, and is dependent on total demand.