The Okanagan Screen Arts Society has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help save Vernon’s historic Towne Cinema, which opened at its current 30th Avenue location as a dance hall in 1929 and was converted to a movie theatre in 1938. (GoFundMe photo)

The Okanagan Screen Arts Society has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help save Vernon’s historic Towne Cinema, which opened at its current 30th Avenue location as a dance hall in 1929 and was converted to a movie theatre in 1938. (GoFundMe photo)

Historic Okanagan cinema focus of GoFundMe campaign

Society launches campaign to help save Vernon’s Towne Cinema which opened on 30th Avenue in 1938

The Okanagan Screen Arts Society is doing what it can to save Vernon’s historic theatre.

A GoFundMe campaign was started Dec. 11 to help keep Vernon’s Towne Cinema on 30th Avenue, a movie fixture on the city’s main street since 1938.

“We are now facing the prospect of losing this historic venue and an important economic anchor for the downtown core,” wrote campaign organizer Christopher John. “Many of our residents have fond memories of this theatre going back more than 90 years (building opened in 1929 as a dance hall) 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.”

John said the cinema’s current owner is ready to retire and has offered to hand over the keys of the theatre to the Okanagan Screen Arts Society, along with donating the equipment for the organization to run it.

“He has a strong desire to see the venue remain a vibrant community-run arts and entertainment amenity, and has been working hard during the current (COVID) shutdown to make it better.”

The owner has been replacing the old theatre seats with new ones during the shutdown, and gave away the old seats to interested community members for free.

“It became really clear what a valued and important piece of Vernon history it is, but we don’t want to save it just because of its long history… we want to save it because of the potential future it can have making new memories for current and future residents,” said John.

In order for the Okanagan Screen Arts Society to be able to take advantage of this remarkable one-time opportunity to save the theatre, they are looking for help and support. The 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 GoFundMe campaign as well as other corporate and private donations and sponsorships the society is hoping to raise at least $75,000 from the community between individual donations and corporate sponsorships.

“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,” said John.

Campaign money will be used to keep providing arts opportunities and expand on them; renovations including making the venue accessible for those with mobility challenges by adding a ramp and power doors; rebuilding the original stage for small, live performances.

As of Sunday, $750 has been raised with a goal of reaching $50,000.

If you would like any more detailed information, please contact through the Okanagan Screen Arts Society website.

READ MORE: Upgrades to Vernon Towne Cinema prompt giveaway of chairs from the 1940s

READ MORE: Towne Cinema goes digital



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Local Businesspolitical fundraisingTheater

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A map released by the BCCDC on Jan. 15 shows the number of new COVID-19 cases reported for each local health area between Jan. 3 and 9. (BCCDC Image)
Salmon Arm and Vernon see increase in new COVID cases, curve flattening elsewhere

The rate of new cases is levelling off in Kelowna, Penticton and Revelstoke.

The Premier Hotel on Summerland’s Main Street and the taxi were owned by Bill and Lydia Johnston. Today, the building is Sass Fashions in Summerland. H.S. Kenyon, who moved the building to Summerland from Midway, continued with building construction. His family now operates Greyback Construction. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)
Two former Summerland hotel buildings have been moved over the years

Transport of buildings is part of community’s history

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

The Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs is inviting everyone to join them in celebrating Pink Shirt Day safely at home. (Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs)
Pink Shirt Day re-imagined as COVID-19 pandemic continues

The Boys and Girls Clubs are introducing Breakfast in a Box

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

The organizer of a Kelowna protest against COVID-19 restrictions was fined by the RCMP for the third time Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19: Organizer of Kelowna anti-restriction protest ticketed for third time

The individual’s latest ticket for $2,300 was handed out by RCMP at an anti-lockdown rally Saturday

Mount Boucherie Secondary School is one of three Kelowna schools with confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to an update from the school district Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19 confirmed at 3 Kelowna schools

Interior Health has confirmed exposures at Mount Boucherie, Springvalley and South Rutland schools

Half of the most expensive homes are on 2080 Mackenzie Crt, which is across the street from Revelstoke Mountain Resort. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
The 10 most valuable homes in Revelstoke for 2020

Combined, the properties are worth more than $35M

Lake Country native Evan-Riley Brown is in the cast for the new film Journey To Royal: A WW II Rescue Mission to be released on video on demand and streaming services on Feb. 2. (Contributed)
Okanagan actor lands role in WW II movie

Evan-Riley Brown, from Lake Country, cast in production labelled as hybrid of a feature film and documentary called Journey To Royal: a WW II Rescue Mission.

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
More than 20 days have passed since the last case of COVID-19 was confirmed at Lakeside Manor. (File photo)
Salmon Arm retirement facility reopens social areas after COVID-19

More than 20 days have passed since last confirmed case at Lakeside Manor

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Most Read