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Art-House America Campaign

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On March 30 the Criterion Collection and Janus Films launched the Art-House America Campaign, an emergency fundraising effort dedicated to providing financial relief to art house movie theaters experiencing COVID related closures. As of May 28 the campaign has raised over $840,000 from over 5,000 donors dedicated to keeping the filmgoing experience alive. We are incredibly touched by the outpouring of support for art house cinemas.

We are also thrilled to announce that the campaign has been able to distribute its two rounds of grants. Congratulations to the 153 cinemas who have received support from the Art-house America Campaign! Thank you for you for making sure we can all return to the movies. 

14 Pews Houston, TX • ACME Screening Room Lambertville, NJ • AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center Silver Spring, MD • Alexander Valley Film Society Cloverdale, CA • American Cinematheque Los Angeles, CA • Amherst Cinema Amherst, MA • Anthology Film Archives New York, NY• a/perture cinema Winston-Salem, NC • Arena Cinelounge Los Angeles, CA • Arena Theater Association Point Arena, CA • Ark Lodge Cinemas Seattle, WA • ArtsEmerson Boston, MA • ArtsQuest, Bethlehem, PA • Athena Cinema Athens, OH • Austin Film Society Austin, TX • Avalon Theatre Washington DC • Avon Theater Film Center Greenwich, CT • The Beacon Cinema Seattle, WA • Bedford Playhouse Bedford, NY • BendFilm Bend, OR • BIJOU Theatre Lincoln City, OR • The Bookhouse Cinema Joplin, MO • Brattle Theatre Cambridge, MA • Broadway Metro Eugene, OR • Bryn Mawr Film Institute Bryn Mawr, PA • Byrd Theatre Richmond, VA • Cameo Cinema St. Helena, CA • Capri Theater Montgomery, AL • Carlisle Regional Performing Arts Center Carlisle, PA • Central Cinema Knoxville, TN • Chelsea Theater Cinema Capitol Chapel Hill, NC • Rome, NY • Cinema21 Portland, OR • CinemaSF San Francisco, CA • Cinematique of Daytona Daytona Beach, FL • Ciné Athens, GA • Cinema Arts Centre Huntington, NY • Cinema Detroit Detroit, MI • Cinemapolis Ithaca, NY • cinéSPEAK Folsom, PA • Cinestudio Hartford, CT • Circle Cinema Tulsa, OK • City Lights Cinemas Florence, OR • Civic Theatre of Allentown Allentown, PA • Clinton Street Theater Portland, OR • Colonial Theatre Phoenixville, PA • Coral Gables Art Cinema Coral Gables, FL • Columbia Film Society Columbia, SC • Court Square Theater Harrisonburg, VA • Dairy Arts Center Boulder, CO • Darkside Cinema Corvallis, OR • Denver Film Society Denver, CO • Dietrich Theater Tunkhannoock, PA • Echo Park Film Center Los Angeles, CA • The Emmaus Theatre Emmaus PA • Enzian Theater Maitland, FL • Eveningstar Cinema Brunswick, ME • Facets Chicago, IL • Fargo Theatre Fargo, ND • Film at Lincoln Center New York, NY • The Film Lab Hamtramck, MI • Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul Minneapolis, MN • Film Streams Omaha, NE • Film Scene Iowa City, IA • Frida Cinema Santa Ana, CA • Gateway Film Center Columbus, OH • Gold Town Theater Juneau, AK • Grail Cinema Asheville, NC • Grandin Theatre Roanoke, VA • The Grand Cinema Tacoma, WA • Grand Illusion Cinema Seattle, WA • Guild Cinema Albuquerque, NM • The Historic Artcraft Theatre Franklin, IN • Historic Howell Theater Howell, MI • The Historic Vogue Theatre of Manistee Manistee, MI • Images Cinema Williamstown, MA • Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre Moscow, ID • Light Industry Brooklyn, NY • The Lyric Council Blacksburg, VA • Jacob Burns Film Center Pleasantville, NY • Jane Pickens Theater & Event Center Newport, RI • Kiggins Theatre Vancouver, WA • Kimball’s Peak Three Theater Colorado Springs, CO • Lincoln Theatre Center Foundation Mount Vernon, WA • The Little Theatre Rochester, NY • Loft Cinema Tucson, AZ • Lumiere Cinema Beverly Hills, CA • The Luna Theater Lowell, MA • Maiden Alley Cinema Paducah, KY • Manlius Art Cinema Manlius, NY • Martha’s Vineyard Film Society Vineyard Haven, MA • Maysles Documentary Center New York, NY • Media Arts Center San Diego – Digital Gym Cinema San Diego, CA • The Midwest Theater Scottsbluff, NE • Milwaukee Film Milwaukee, WI • Montclair Film Festival Montclair, NJ • The Moviehouse Millerton, NY • Music Box Theatre Chicago, IL • The Nantucket Dreamland Foundation Nantucket, MA • Naro Cinema Norfolk, VA • The Neon Dayton, OH • Nightlight Cinema Akron, OH • North Park Theatre of Buffalo Buffalo, NY • Northeast Historic Film Bucksport, ME • Northwest Film Forum Seattle, WA • Old Greenbelt Theatre Greenbelt, MD • Old Town Music Hall El Segundo, CA • Olympia Film Society Olympia, WA • Osio Theater Foundation Monterey, CA • Pageant Theater Chico, CA • La Paloma Theatre Encinitas, CA • Park City Film Park City, UT • Parkway Theatre and Maryland Film Festival Baltimore, MD • Philadelphia Film Society Philadelphia, PA • Pickford Film Center Bellingham, WA • The Picture House Regional Film Center Pelham, NY • Plaza Atlanta Atlanta, GA • The Plaza Cinema and Media Arts Center Patchogue, NY • The Prospector Theater Ridgefield, CT • Provincetown Film Society Provincetown, MA • Ragtag Film Society Columbia, MO • Reel Pizza Cinerama Bar Harbor, ME • Robinson Film Center Shreveport, LA • Rose Theatre Port Townsend, WA • Rosendale Theatre Rosendale, NY • Row House Cinema Pittsburgh, PA • Roxie Theater San Francisco, CA • Roxy Theater Missoula, MT • Salem Cinema Salem, OR • Salt Lake Film Society Salt Lake City, UT • Savoy Theater Montpelier, VT • Screenland Armour Theatre North Kansas City, MO • The Screening Room Amherst, NY • Sedona International Film Festival & Mary D Fisher Theatre Sedona, AZ • Sidewalk Film Center & Cinema Birmingham, AL • SIFF Seattle, WA • Sol Cinema Cafe New York, NY • The Strand Theatre Rockland, ME • Stuart Cinema & Cafe Brooklyn, NY • Suns Cinema Washington, D.C., DC • Tampa Theatre Tampa, FL • Tropic Cinema Key West, FL • Trylon Cinema Minneapolis, MN • The Tull Family Theater Sewickley, PA • The State Theatre Modesto, CA • The Texas Theatre Dallas, TX • Upstate Films Rhinebeck, NY • The Winterset Iowa Theater Winterset, IA • Traverse City Film Festival / State and Bijou Theaters Traverse City, MI • The World Theatre Foundation Kearney, NE • Zeitgeist Theatre & Lounge Arabi, LA • Zinema 2 Duluth, MN

 

 

COVID-19 Preparedness Resources

By | Art House Advocacy, Uncategorized | No Comments

During this challenging period, art houses around the world are working together to innovate and develop film programming and education for their audiences. Art House Convergence strongly encourages film lovers to invest in their local art house now so that theaters can continue to serve them in the future. 

AHC meetings take place every Wednesday at 4:00pm ET / 1:00pm PT, with discussions focused around operating a cinema during this crisis. For security reasons, this call-in information is not posted publicly. Join our newsletter list to stay on top of the latest topics and registration sign-ups. More information on virtual roundtables and webinars can be found here.

General
Closures and Reopening 
Administration & CARES Act
Advocate for Arts Funding and Support
Online Platforms and Solutions
Prevent the Spread of Misinformation & Racist Rhetoric
Resources for Individuals
COVID-19 Overview 
Development 
Fundraising
Member Benefits
Revenue Opportunities
Education
Bringing Education Online
Marketing
Communications
Operations
Reopening Operations
Accessibility
Human Resources & Staffing
Operations
Reduce Expenses
Programming
Reopening Programming
Virtual Cinema: FAQs
Virtual Cinema: Platforms
Virtual Cinema: Live Events 
Alternative Programming

More Resources


Temporarily closed? Add your art house here.

General Resources

Closures and Reopening

  • Theaters should always comply with public health guidelines and enhance precautions when appropriate in order to ensure the safety of staff and guests. 
  • Before reopening, identify and assemble key stakeholders and board members and establish a task force to address the ethical, legal, and financial concerns associated with reopening.
  • Consult with your insurance broker and legal representation. Identify risks associated with reopening and scope of insurance coverage. 
  • Establish regular communications with local and state departments of health.
  • Work with human resources to provide a forum for staff and front of house staff to share their thoughts and concerns about returning to work.
  • Work with communications to create a survey to assess community sentiment. IU Cinema: Reopening Survey, FilmScene: Summer 2020 Camp SurveyIndieWire: Risks and Rewards of Reopening.
  • Assess if it is possible for your theater to reopen safely. Art House Convergence: Operations AssessmentArt House Convergence: Public Health Assessment.
  • Reopening: OperationsReopening: Programming

Administration & CARES Act

    • Review updated tax provisions. Tax return filing dates have been extended to July 15, 2020 and corporate tax payments are delayed until October 15, 2020. Read more here.
    • The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
      • Resources: Small Business Owners GuideInside Charity: How Nonprofits Will Receive CARES Act Funding
      • Paycheck Protection ProgramBusinesses with under 500 employees may qualify for federally guaranteed loans to cover the cost of payroll and may be eligible for loan forgiveness equal to the amount spent on costs including payroll, rent, and utilities. Small businesses are eligible to apply if they were harmed by COVID-19 between February 15, 2020 and June 30, 2020. Starting April 3, 2020, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply. Starting April 10, 2020, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply.
      • Emergency Economic Injury Disaster LoansThis program provides emergency advances of up to $10,000 to small businesses and non-profits harmed by COVID-19. EIDLs are low interest loans of up to $2 million. These grants are available between January 31, 2020 and December 31, 2020. Resources: Application.
      • Small Business Debt Relief Program. This program provides relief to small businesses with non-disaster SBA loans, in particular 7(a), 504, and micro-loans. SBA will cover all payments on these loans including principal, interest, and fees for six months.
      • Employee Retention Credit. This provision provides a refundable payroll tax credit for 50% of wages paid by eligible employers to certain employees during COVID-19 crisis. The credit is available to employers, including non-profits, whose operations have been fully or partially suspended as a result of a government order limiting commerce, travel or group meetings. This credit is not available to employers receiving assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program. More information available here.
      • Delay of Payment of Employer Payroll Taxes. This provision would allow taxpayers to defer paying the employer portion of certain payroll taxes through the end of 2020, with all 2020 deferred amounts due in two equal installments, one at the end of 2021, the other at the end of 2022. Payroll taxes that can be deferred include the employer portion of FICA taxes, the employer and employee representative portion of Railroad Retirement taxes (that are attributable to the employer FICA rate), and half of SECA tax liability. This deferral is not available to employers receiving assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program.
      • Seeking support from a business counselor? Find a local resource partner here.
    • Contact your landlord or lender, renegotiate payments schedules and terms.
    • Review your insurance policy and contact your insurance provider to determine if your business interruption and liability insurance include any coverage for an outbreak in your community. Even without explicit coverage for pandemics of communicable diseases, theaters can file a claim.
    • Review existing contracts and check force majeure and cancellation clauses to ensure that they include protection during epidemics and pandemics. Communicate with your board and key stakeholders about financial risks and liability.
    • Contact you vendors and suppliers, anticipate changes in demand and respond accordingly.
    • Protect your liquidity. Assess how long you can operate during a period of temporary closure and identify expense reductions that can extend this period. Make financial plans for variable outcomes ranging from 1-12 months of potential interruptions.

Advocate for Arts Funding and Support

Online Platforms and Solutions

Prevent the Spread of Misinformation and Racist Rhetoric

  • Do not ignore racist remarks, condemn racist rhetoric and actions when they occur.
  • Do not use images or terms that reinforce negative stereotypes like “Wuhan virus.”
  • Discuss and enforce anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies with volunteers and staff.
  • Monitor social media platforms for racist behaviors.
  • Craft your own public statement. Resources are available from the Association for Asian American Studies and Asian American Journalists Association.

Resources for Individuals 

COVID-19 Overview

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It is spread through person-to-person transmission. 

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within approximately 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.
  • Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.
  • It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the primary source of transmission.
  • Current research shows that COVID-19 is spreading “very easily and sustainably between people” 

Development

Fundraising

  • Continue to celebrate your mission. Arts and culture still matter, continue to make your unique mission central to your conversations with donors.
  • Tell your story. Explain what support will be used for and personalize your asks.
  • Every dollar counts. Encourage patrons to donate the value of their ticket instead of requesting a refund.
  • Pace yourself. Because of uncertainty about the duration of closures, roll out fundraising initiatives slowly.
  • Mobilize your Board. Encourage Board members who are able to pay dues in advance.
  • Renegotiate Grants. Request that funders re-designate restricted funds for general operating costs.

Member Benefits

  • MUBI, a curated streaming service for art house and independent films, is offering 3 months of free streaming access to your art house’s members complete with a bespoke landing page for your theater. Email knewmark(at)mubi.com for details.
  • Music Box Direct, a streaming service featuring films including Transit and Frantz, is offering one month of free streaming access to your art house’s members. Email bschultz(at)musicboxfilms.com for details.
  • Engage filmmakers, professors, and staff to host special virtual happy hours and film conversations as member benefits.

Revenue Opportunities

  • Magnolia Selects and Spotlight Cinema Networks are offering art house theaters 100% of the subscription fees when their patrons sign up for Magnolia Selects. After July 1, fees will be divided on a 50/50 split between the theater and Spotlight/ Magnolia. Read more here.
  • Facebook Boost Grants. Facebook is offering small grants to eligible businesses.
  • Gift Packages & Swag. FilmScene: Concessions Bundle, Texas Theatre: Home Cinema Survival Kits, Sidewalk Cinema: Curbside Concessions, Frida Cinema: QuaranZine, The Little: Popcorn Pass.
  • Sponsorship. Encourage sponsors to support your new initiatives and virtual programs. Offer email logo placement as a sponsor benefit.
  • Reach out to local community foundations and emergency grant programs.
  • Remain active and keep your supporters updated about progress.
  • Virtual Fundraisers. Seed&Spark:Art House Crowdfunding.

Education

Bringing Education Online

Marketing

Communications & Marketing 

Operations

Reopening Operations

  • Prior to reopening, states should carefully review federal, state, and local public health guidelines and restrictions.
  • Include a public announcement about steps your theater is taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Art House Convergence: Reopening Safely, Gina Cuomo (Denver Film), George Myers (Amherst Cinema).
  • Art House Convergence: Reopening Approaches and Questions, George Myers (Amherst Cinema), Beth Gilligan (Coolidge Corner Theatre).
  • Encourage social distancing. Lines, seating, and staffing should allow for 6 feet of between individuals.
  • Enhance cleaning efforts: prepare cleaning checklists, stagger screenings to allow more time for cleaning between shows, regularly clean surfaces and touch-points (knobs, railings, touchscreens, dispensers).
  • Work closely with staff. Develop plans around sick time and absenteeism, establish communication channels, provide training on PPE.
  • Provide personal protective equipment, including gloves, sanitizer, and masks for staff.
  • Schedule fewer screenings to avoid crowding in lobby and other common areas.
  • Discourage sick patrons from attending screenings. Offer full refunds to sick patrons.
  • Make hand sanitizer, napkins, tissues, and soap readily available to guests.
  • Make trash cans readily available for the disposal of tissues and napkins. Change trash regularly.
  • Post hand washing instructions at sinks.
  • Minimize touching customers phones, credit cards, and tickets. If possible, allow customers to swipe or insert cards themselves or make their purchases in advance.
  • Event Safety Alliance: Reopening Guide

Accessibility

Human Resources & Staffing 

  • Remain in regular communication with staff. Leadership should establish clear communications plans to help team members understand workflow and decision-making.
  • Counter stigma by disseminating accurate information about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Speak out against negative behaviors, and maintain employee confidentiality.
  • Establish compassionate and clearly communicated staffing protocols to account for workplace disruptions. Plan for work redistribution, flexible schedules, and increased absenteeism.
  • If staff need to perform work onsite, schedule them to avoid overlap and provide additional supplies to regularly clean workspaces (alcohol-based hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, tissues, hands-free waste receptacles).
  • During furloughs or layoffs, assist staff with applying for unemployment.
  • Create opportunities for staff engagement like weekly check-ins or Netflix viewing parties.
  • Ensure that your sick and leave policies are consistent with public health guidelines and that staff are informed about these policies. Offer paid sick leave.
  • All employee health information is confidential, even during a crisis. Employers should not reveal the identities of infected employees.
  • In most circumstances, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from asking employees about health conditions. However, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) does allow for some exceptions to mitigate the negative impact of pandemics in the workplace. The EEOC recommends that employers follow CDC guidelines and has provided additional guidance about employer actions during an influenza pandemic.

Operations 

  • Carefully annotate your building closing checklist. Make sure multiple staffers have the tools and information they need for data backups, bank deposits, building security, and reopening.
  • Care for your building while closed. Download our checklist here.
  • Prepare your projectors and servers for an extended shutdown. Instructions from Boston Light & Sound are available here.
  • Arrange for at least one staff member to visit the building regularly.
  • Check concession stands for perishable items. Arrange to sell or donate items.
  • Communicate closure to distributors, Deluxe, and Cinevizion.

Reduce Expenses

  • Cancel all non-essential subscriptions, including software, advertising (print, social media, digital), concessions ordering, and shipping.
  • Adjust your thermostat.
  • Contact your landlord about rent relief. Research business eviction protections in your city or town.
  • Contact your bank or lender about mortgage or loan payment relief.

Programming

Reopening Programming

  •  Art House Convergence: Virtual BORs & Reopening Programming, Rebecca Fons (Film Scene & The Iowa Theater).
  • Reopening Programming Offers:
    • IFC Films: The Indie Theater Revival Project.
    • Paramount: Repertory titles can be developed into custom programs, or book preexisting programs through the Back to the Big Screen Program. Full list here.
    • Searchlight: Offering select titles beginning June 1 for a limited fee including Isle of Dogs and Jojo Rabbit.
    • Sony Pictures Classics: Offering select repertory titles including Only Lovers Left Alive and All About My Mother.
    • United Artists Releasing: $125 flat for select catalogue titles, $40 donated to Will Rogers Relief Fund.
    • Universal Repertory: Offering 25 themed combo drives of titles from Blumhouse, Dreamworks, Focus Features, and Illumination. Full list here.
    • Warner Bros: WB Classics Program : 5 TIERS

Virtual Cinema: FAQs

  • What are virtual cinema screenings? Virtual cinema screenings are ticketed screenings of films unavailable on any other VOD platform that viewers can enjoy from the privacy of their own home. Once a customer purchases a ticket they will receive access to a temporary film rental.
  • How can viewers enjoy a virtual screening? Audiences can buy tickets through their local art house cinema.
  • How does this support independent theaters? Virtual screenings allow theaters to keep programming films, even when their doors are closed. A portion of each ticket sale will go directly to the buyer’s local art house cinema.
  • What films are available to book? We recommend theaters contact their regular bookers and/ or distributors to stay on top of current titles available. Dear Producer list of available titles.
  • How many films should my theater book at once? We recommend theaters offer the same number of films they usually do. If you regularly book four films and have capacity to market, promote, and discuss four, then you should adhere to your established model.
  • How do we help our patrons navigate the tech? Offer a FAQ. a/perture cinema: FAQCoolidge Corner Theatre: FAQJacob Burns Film Center: Virtual FAQ.

Virtual Cinema: Platforms

Virtual Live Events (and Security)

  • Staff as you would any special program.
  • Keep your event secure. For Zoom, this means never post your link publicly, and adjust settings to make sure the host has control over the meeting.
    • Participant Video (Off)
    • Join Before Host (Off)
    • Mute Participants Upon Entry (On)
    • File Transfer (Off)
    • Screen Sharing (Off)
    • Allow removed participants to rejoin (Off).

Alternative Programming

More Resources

Note: We will regularly update this post as the situation evolves. Last updated at 11:30 AM ET on July 20, 2020.

TIFF ’19: Art House Convergence Joins the Conversation

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At TIFF 2019 Art House Convergence Managing Director Alison Kozberg and Programming Track Head Sarah-Tai Black joined conversations at the Industry Conference about the theatrical experience and decolonizing the screen.

The Big Screen: Have Rumors of My Demise Been Greatly Exaggerated?

A panel of industry experts will debate the state of the cinematic experience, discuss industry and audience trends, as well as discuss the new opportunities that today’s marketplace offers.

Alison Kozberg leads Art House Convergence, a North American association for art house cinemas that provides resources and networking opportunities to hundreds of cinema exhibitors each year through its conferences and events. Kozberg was previously director of the Nickelodeon Theatre, where she ran cinema programming and operations. She has also led symposia and special events for a wide range of theatres and museums.

Anick Poirier is co-president at WaZabi Films, licensing quality art-house with crossover potential feature films worldwide. WaZabi Films, a division of DATSIT Sphere Inc., represents Cannes Official Selections Matthias et Maxime (19) and A Brother’s Love (19), to name a few. Poirier was previously senior vice-president for Seville International, eOne’s boutique sales outfits

Matthew Ball is a two-time digital media executive. From 2016 to 2018, he served the global head of strategy for Amazon Studios, and prior to that was a director at the Chernin Group, a digital media investment company founded by long-time Newscorp COO and 20th Century Fox CEO Peter Chernin. Today, he is a venture capitalist focused primarily on interactive media.

Eli Glasner is an arts reporter and film critic with CBC. Each Friday, his reviews can be heard on CBC News Network, as well as his weekly appearances on many local radio shows

Engage @ TIFF: Pan-Africanism in the Caribbean & Decolonizing the Screen

This session focuses on the overlapping yet distinct notions of post-colonialism, pan-Africanism, and the diasporas of the Caribbean, and how they can engage in and maintain a filmic conversation with the African continent. Speakers include Jason Fitzroy Jeffers, Co–Executive Director of Third Horizon, and host Claire Diao, film critic and co-founder of the pan-African film journal Awotélé.


Co-programmed with Engage, a series of panels and think tanks engaged in pertinent, challenging, and multi-faceted questions facing the African film industry now.

Sarah-Tai Black is a film programmer, arts curator, and writer living in Toronto. She is the programming coordinator at Images Festival and has worked as a member of TIFF’s festival programming team. She is also one of the directors of the Royal Cinema, where she programs a monthly series called Black Gold.

Jason Fitzroy Jeffers is a Barbadian filmmaker, writer and co-executive director of the Miami-based Caribbean filmmaking and arts collective Third Horizon. Its annual Third Horizon Film Festival celebrates and empowers the new creatives emerging from the region.

Claire Diao is a French and Burkinabè journalist and film critic. She founded in 2013 the Quartiers Lointains short film touring program, co-founded in 2015 the pan-African film critic magazine Awotele, and has been the CEO of Sudu Connexion since 2016. Her essay, “Double Vague, le nouveau souffle du cinéma français,” was published by Au Diable Vauvert in 2017. She is also a host of the TV talk show Ciné Le Mag on Canal+, Une dose de ciné on France O, and takes part in Le Cercle on Canal+. Diao received the 2018 Beaumarchais Medal from the Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques.

Renee Robinson is the film commissioner of Jamaica and a multilingual creative economy strategist and thought leader. She has two decades of management experience within the verticals of film, television, digital entertainment, and communications, in Canada, Europe, the US, South Africa, and the Caribbean. She holds a master’s in communications and culture with a specialization in the management of telecom innovation, with joint coursework in the MBA in arts management, from York University, and a bachelor’s in art studio and art history from Williams College.

Countering Xenophobia as an Art House

By | Art House Advocacy | No Comments

Art house cinemas have been the beneficiaries of foreign-language films for over seventy years. Racism and xenophobia threaten our core values and are irreconcilable with our priorities of culture and community.

At its inception, the art house movement provided a forum for empathy and understanding, exposing American audiences to perspectives and experiences from around the world.* On February 25, 1946, a subtitled print of Roberto Rossellini’s Rome Open City (Roma, cittá aperta) debuted at the World Theatre in New York, initiating a record-breaking twenty-one month run that presaged the ascendance of a vibrant U.S. art film market anchored by the exhibition of foreign films. 

Rome Open City was applauded by critics around the world for its moving depiction of the struggle to resist fascism during the Nazi occupation of Rome. One of its most memorable and heartbreaking scenes is of a forced family separation — made all the more painful by its contemporary relevance. 

As exhibitors we have the privilege to share artworks of complexity, artistry, and empathy, and to amplify voices that are too often unheard in our communities. We have the opportunity to host conversations and cultivate common ground instead of cruel division. We have influence, and with that, responsibility.

We have a responsibility to denounce racist rhetoric and actions, to develop programming in solidarity with people when they are vulnerable, to provide a forum for a global community of filmmakers, and to reject efforts to cast hate-speech and discrimination as merely “racially-charged” or alternative points of view.

During recent weeks U.S. government officials have forcibly separated families and detained immigrants and refugees in unsanitary and unsafe facilities. They have used racist rhetoric to justify these actions and in attempts to silence dissent, sow hatred, and provoke violence.

We can respond to this by elevating our art houses as spaces of healing and collaboration. We have the opportunity to program films from around the world to celebrate the creativity and perspectives of filmmakers of diverse races, ethnicities, religions, genders, and nationalities.

I am inspired by art houses’ devotion to their communities and know that we will combat vitriol and discord with art, dialogue, and critical discourse bolstered by ethical clarity and conviction

Sincerely,
Alison Kozberg
Managing Director
Art House Convergence

* Though foreign-language films screened in the United States prior to World War II, the number of art house exhibitors, volume of foreign-language film exhibition, and the general public’s awareness of art cinemas increased substantially after the war. For histories of the post-war art house movement consult Tino Balio, The Foreign Film Renaissance on American Screens 1946 – 1973 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2010) and Barbara Wilinsky, Sure Seaters: The Emergence of Art House Cinema. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001).

A Letter to the New York Times

By | Art House Advocacy | No Comments

To the Editor:

Re: Will The Movies Exist in 10 Years? (Arts & Leisure, Sunday June 23):

Kyle Buchanan’s article on the future of movies fails to include a single representative from the field of theatrical exhibition and rehearses the same eulogy for theaters delivered upon the arrival of television and home video. Consequently, the piece lacks meaningful insight into the fundamentally social aspects of movie-going and the benefits of shared experience.

The future of cinema is directly tied to theaters’ cultural and educational potential. A more thorough analysis of the state of movies might include Frederick Joseph’s #BlackPantherChallenge, the Crazy Rich Asians #GoldOpen, public screenings and special events at the Belcourt Theatre (Nashville, TN), the Jacob Burns Film Center (Pleasantville, NY), The Loft Cinema (Tucson, AZ), FilmScene (Iowa City, IA), and hundreds of other mission-driven theaters that foster an appreciation for the arts, encourage media literacy, and facilitate conversations about some of the most challenging subjects of our times.

At a time when the relationship between political polarization and solitary media viewing has never been more evident, we must raise the bar from asking “how movies can survive” to examining how and when they thrive. Over the past decade, movie theaters across the country have successfully embraced the principles of community-based and mission-driven programming, focusing on prioritizing audience experience, public dialogue, and positive cultural impact.

 A failure to account for how theaters are evolving from businesses into principled cultural institutions risks devaluing vital communal experiences at the precise moment when we need them most.

Sincerely,
Alison Kozberg
Managing Director
Art House Convergence

A Letter to Variety

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To the Editor: Re “Inside Indie Movie Theaters’ Battle to Survive” (Variety Feature)

Brent Lang and Matt Donnelly are right, thousands of screens in the United States are operated by independents. However, the depiction of these theaters as imperiled is incomplete and inaccurate.

Throughout the United States, independent cinemas that prioritize community engagement and ambitious programming are thriving. At Art House Convergence, a national association committed to advancing excellence in film exhibition, participation in our annual conference has increased from 27 in 2008 to over 700 in 2019, a reflection of the number of art house cinemas opening, expanding, and embracing the vitality of theatrical exhibition.

Joined by the guiding principle of “community-based, mission-driven,” these theaters, which number in the hundreds, aren’t merely trying to “out hustle the bigger circuits.” They are effectively strategizing financial growth and sustainability to support exemplary theatrical experiences, media education programs, and meaningful conversations — and their communities are growing. Since 2009, for instance, the Gateway Film Center (Columbus, OH) has doubled its attendance, while the Belcourt Theatre (Nashville, TN) has increased attendance by 55% over the past five years, and other theaters such as the Brattle Theatre (Cambridge, MA), and Pickford Film Center (Bellingham, WA) also report steady growth.

These organizations, including the Michigan Theater Foundation (Ann Arbor, MI), the parent organization of Art House Convergence and two historic theaters, are mature arts nonprofits. The Michigan Theater Foundation currently has a membership of over 7,000 individuals and since 2015 has raised $9 million dollars for a major renovation of its historic State Theatre. Likewise, Film Streams (Omaha, NE) recently completed a $9 million capital campaign to restore and renovate the historic Dundee Theater with outstanding results — in 2018 they enjoyed increased revenue, attendance, membership, and ensured that 30% of exhibited films were directed by women.

Art house theaters across the country are also expanding their programming to include robust media arts curricula. The Jacob Burns Film Center (Pleasantville, NY) has implemented education programs for over 150,000 students since 2001, while the Bryn Mawr Film Institute (Bryn Mawr, PA) educates 5,000 students each year, offering filmmaking and documentary courses as well as educational opportunities for elementary school students.

At the same time, in the face of our current social and political polarizations, independent theaters including the Nickelodeon Theatre (Columbia, SC), FilmScene (Iowa City, IA), and the Nightlight Cinema (Akron, OH) are giving audiences the opportunity to see films from countries including Palestine, Kenya, Lebanon, and Colombia. These screenings are indispensable invitations to encounter diverse perspectives while enlarging one’s understanding of the world, not just presentations of “obscure foreign language movies” as Variety describes. 

Art houses are successfully crafting community partnerships with other organizations, as the Doris Duke Theatre (Honolulu, HI) did with Hawai‘i Women in Filmmaking on their “Women in Film” series, and collaborating with each other on programming initiatives like The Seventh Art Stand, championed by the Northwest Film Forum (Seattle, WA), and Science on Screen, which through a partnership between the Coolidge Corner Theatre (Brookline, MA) and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has helped 82 cinemas host science related programs.

These vibrant theaters demonstrate that audiences everywhere appreciate collective viewing and the public square. Art houses are going to keep bringing people together, showing incredible films, and facilitating challenging conversations —  that’s far more than just keeping the lights on.

Alison Kozberg
Managing Director
Art House Convergence
Los Angeles, CA

Makenzie Peecook
Conference Manager
Art House Convergence
Ann Arbor, MI

Department of Justice Reviews antitrust judgement, the Paramount Consent Decrees

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On August 2, 2018 the Department of Justice announced that it would review 1,300 legacy antitrust judgements including the Paramount Consent Decrees, a series of consent decrees that restricted certain behaviors by specific motion picture studios.

During this review the Department of Justice will determine if  the decrees should be terminated or modified The Department of Justice will review responses until October 4, 2018.

What are the Paramount Consent Decrees?

In 1938 the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit alleging that eight motion picture studios had conspired to control the motion picture industry. Following the trial the district court and Supreme Court found these studios guilty of a widespread conspiracy to illegally fix motion picture prices and monopolize film distribution and movie theatre markets. Following these rulings the defendants entered into the Paramount Consent Decrees, agreements with the Department of Justice that regulated specific behaviors related to motion picture distribution and exhibition.

Which studios are subject to the Paramount Consent Decrees?

The remaining studios that are subject to the Paramount Consent Decrees are MGM, Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros. as well as their subsidiaries.

What behaviors do the Paramount Consent Decrees restrict?

  1.  Vertical Integration of motion picture distribution and exhibition: The decrees separated film distribution and exhibition and divested five studios of their theaters, requiring them to receive special court permission to acquire theaters in the future.
  2. Block Booking: The decrees regulated the practice of bundling multiple films into a single license — licensing one film or group of films on the condition that an exhibitor would also license another feature or group of features. Studios could no longer force exhibitors to book their entire slate, instead the decrees gave exhibitors the right to reject 20% of feature films not previously trade shown.
  3. Circuit Dealing: Studios were required to license each film individually, theater by theater without discrimination in favor of specific theaters.
  4. Resale Price Maintenance/ Price Fixing: The decrees prohibited studios from setting minimum prices for movie theater admission.  
  5. Overbroad Clearances: The decrees prohibited studios from granting clearances (exclusive film licenses) between theaters that are not in substantial competition.

What other antitrust laws regulate the motion picture industry?

Since 1890 the Sherman Antitrust Act has made certain types of anticompetitive and monopolistic behaviors illegal.  The Act outlawed concentrations of power that restrained trade or inhibited interstate commerce.

Take Action: Protect Quality Film Exhibition

It is an important time to voice your support for the regulation of the monopolization of  the motion picture industry.

As mission-driven, community-based cinemas we purposefully program and exhibit motion pictures in service of the towns, cities, and regions where we are based. Our sustained commitment to community-service — to recognizing the needs, questions, and concerns of specific people and places — improves the quality of film exhibition, contributes to the economic wellbeing of the cities and towns where we are located, and increases consumer choice.

The regulation of anticompetitive behaviors in the motion picture industry is absolutely essential to preventing market consolidation, ensuring fair pricing, and protecting quality film exhibition. Allowing a small, powerful group of motion picture producers and distributors to own theaters risks making independent theaters dependent upon their competitors for content. While allowing large studios to set prices, control clearances, and bundle films into a single license hampers the ability of small business to innovate, collaborate with other small business (particularly small distributors), develop eclectic screening series, and initiate programs intended to invigorate their local economies — in short, it could give consolidated, large corporations excessive influence over programming, strategy, and pricing — allowing them to withhold content and obstruct efforts to work with multiple distributors/ suppliers.

While enforcement of many of the provisions of the Paramount Consent Decrees has eroded over time, with a variety of studios receiving special permission to enter into the film exhibition business in the 1980s, and disputes over licensing and clearances becoming the subject of multiple lawsuits over the course of the last decade, this does not mean that anti-monopolistic  regulation no longer serves a purpose in the motion picture industry. Instead, it is a moment to consider how enhanced regulations could ensure that small, independent exhibitors are able to continue innovating, working with multiple distributors, and providing consumers across America with access to quality film exhibition.

What You Can Do:

Tell the Department of Justice why antitrust legislation is important.

Remember the Department of Justice’s inquiry is focused on how the Paramount Decrees protect market competition and efficiency. Since much antitrust regulation focuses on protecting competition, focus your response on the ways that regulation can enhance and protect consumer choice, fair pricing, competition, and commerce.

Check out our glossary below.

The DOJ is accepting comments on the following questions until October 4, 2018.

  • Do the Paramount Decrees continue to serve important competitive purposes today? Why or why not?
  • Individually, or collectively, are the decree provisions relating to (1) movie distributors owning movie theatres; (2) block booking; (3) circuit dealing; (4) resale price maintenance; and (5) overbroad clearances necessary to protect competition? Are any of these provisions ineffective in protecting competition or inefficient? Do any of these provisions inhibit competition or cause anticompetitive effects?
  • What, if any, modifications to the Paramount Decrees would enhance competition and efficiency? What legal justifications would support such modifications, if any?
  • What effect, if any, would the termination of the Paramount Decrees have on the distribution and exhibition of motion pictures?
  • Have changes to the motion picture industry since the 1940s, including but not limited to, digital production and distribution, multiplex theatres, new distribution and movie viewing platforms render any of the Consent Decree provisions unnecessary?
  • Are existing antitrust laws, including, the precedent of United States v. Paramount, and its progeny, sufficient or insufficient to protect competition in the motion picture industry?

Organizations can submit their commits via email to atr.mep.information@usdoj.gov

Read more about the review here.

Glossary

  • Competitive/ Market Competition Conditions in which different companies or economic entities sell or provide similar products or services and rival for consumers. According to the Federal Trade Commission “Aggressive competition among sellers in an open marketplace gives consumers — both individuals and businesses — the benefits of lower prices, higher quality products and services, more choices, and greater innovation.”
  • Monopoly When a company becomes the only provider of a good or service with no reasonable or tenable substitute.
  • Monopsony When a single entity becomes the only buyer for a good or service (imagine if all food suppliers sold to a single food retailer).
  • Price Fixing an agreement among competitors that raises, lowers, or stabilizes prices or competitive terms  (since the 1980s, regulation has primarily been concerned with raising consumer prices, less attention has been paid to when competitors lower prices)
  • Trust A group of businesses or companies tied together through contracts and cross-ownership.
  • Vertical Integration When a company controls multiple stages of the supply chain.  

Questions? Contact us.

 

A Letter to The Los Angeles Times

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As a coalition of mission-driven film exhibitors committed to using cinema to foster shared experiences and inspire collective action, we share the outrage voiced by Haifaa al-Mansour, Susanne Bier, Sara Colangelo, Nicole Holofcener, and Tamara Jenkins’ in The Los Angeles Times‘ August 30 piece “Five Female Directors, many stories: A conversation on filmmaking, Netflix and more” about the lack of funding and support for projects helmed by female-identifying and gender nonconforming filmmakers. To remain relevant and compelling the motion picture industry must dismantle its established power structures and support the careers and visions of filmmakers who have remained unrepresented and unheard for far too long. Change is imperative and long overdue.

However, in light of the roundtable’s diminishment of the importance of movie theaters, we must assert the vital part we have to play in advancing equity in the motion picture industry. Art House cinemas connect films to the public in ways that are substantive and offer tangible benefits. We teach media literacy, art appreciation, critical viewing practices, and we help audiences speak with each other — using films as the basis for conversations about race, gender, and policy. In a fragmented media landscape we remain committed to facilitating meaningful exchanges between people of diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

Recently Art House cinemas have celebrated the trailblazing women who shaped the film industry, as the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge, MA did with “Year of Women in Cinema,” women’s contributions to the labor movement, as the BAMcinématek in Brooklyn did with “Women at Work: Labor Activism,” devoted festivals to showcasing work by female and queer filmmakers, as Cinema Detroit does with “Shetown” and “Trans Stellar,” and reserved entire months for films directed by women, as FilmScene in Iowa City did with “Women’s March.” We have screened films by Agnès Varda,  Aurora Guerrero, Chloé Zhao, Ava DuVernay, Lucrecia Martel, and foregrounded the work of women activists, educators, and lawmakers in events to accompany documentaries like Whose Streets? and RBG.

Art House cinemas support women as leaders — we employ women executives, programmers, educators, and managers — yet there is still a long way to go.

Publicly accessible cinemas and shared experiences are essential tools in the fight for equity.  We invite inspiring filmmakers like Haifaa al-Mansour, Susanne Bier, Sara Colangelo, Nicole Holofcener, and Tamara Jenkins, and powerful corporations like Netflix, to work with us.

We want to screen your films. We want to include them in conversations, roundtables,  retrospectives, and series. We want to invite you to our theaters, and to continue to support and program the local and emerging filmmakers inspired by your achievements.

Sincerely,

Alison Kozberg
Managing Director
Art House Convergence

AHC Statement on Harassment in the Workplace

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The Art House Convergence, as the largest active group of those working in the Art House world, is an organization that believes in creating a community where the safety and comfort of our Art House colleagues is our key concern. There is no room in the Art House community for harassment of any kind. We believe in and are committed to preserving independent film exhibition as a place where everyone feels safe and welcome to participate in the shared experience of film.

Due to recent events in two theaters, it is vital that we restate our commitment to a harassment-free environment for our colleagues and communities and strongly condemn any organization or individual who engages in and/or allows this behavior.  It is intolerable.

The Art House community is founded on principles of transparency and trust. Without these in place, our colleagues and our theaters would not be able to create community-based, mission-driven programs for our audiences. It is the responsibility of each of us to engender a harassment-free environment that supports the behaviors and culture that are central to our mission. We support our colleagues, including those working at the two organizations in question, as they work to rebuild the trust in their communities.

Harassment is a pervasive issue and is not exclusive to any one industry. In order to combat it in our own community, we must address these insidious behaviors in a direct way.

In support of that, we will be engaging in plenary dialogues, town halls, and action-oriented meetings throughout the 2018 Art House Convergence, January 15-18, 2018. Our conversations will be ongoing, extending beyond our community and we will be continually reviewing and discussing how we can, as an organization, constructively address these issues and best move forward. This includes an ongoing review of our activities in our theaters and reviewing and reinforcing our policies. Our position on a harassment-free environment and these actions we are taking should signal to our theaters and communities the values we believe in and the kind of organization we are committed to be.

-The Art House Convergence Team