In April of 2014 the Foundation's trustees approved a second phase of funding to support the digital conversion partnership for rural theaters. As highlighted in the attached story by AP reporter Donna Bryson [click here to read article] in 2013 the movie industry completed its conversion from film to digital projection. This change has posed serious challenges for a large number of rural main street movie theaters in Colorado and nationwide. Many theaters do not have the funds to convert to digital projection and were faced with the possibility of having to close their doors. Rural movie theaters often act as not only a form of entertainment but also as a social venue and gathering place for the community. These historic theaters are a vital part of the main streets of rural towns attracting visitors and community members alike. A growing number of these theaters are operated as nonprofits for broader community benefit.
The Gates Family Foundation has worked in partnership with the Boettcher Foundation and the State of Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade to support the conversion of 6 rural theaters in 2013, with another 3 slated for conversion in 2014. The Denver Film Society has provided technical and grant-making support to these efforts and Downtown Colorado Inc. has provided information and training for theaters interested in exploring the community nonprofit model.