Iowa movie theaters hurt by the pandemic can apply for grants of up to $10,000 per screen, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Thursday.
Reynolds designated $5.5 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act for the program.
Theaters must show movies for all ages, had regular screenings in 2019, experienced a closure or restriction because of the governor’s coronavirus disaster proclamation and experienced a revenue loss in 2020.
Bruce Taylor, owner of Collins Road Theatres in Cedar Rapids, told The Gazette the grant would go “a long way” in helping his theater stay afloat.
“It’s a significant grant and will hopefully help us limp through the Dark Ages, so to speak, until things come back,” Taylor said.
“The whole industry has been extremely depressed.”
Collins Road Theatres had to close earlier in the pandemic and then again following the Aug. 10 derecho, when the building along with some of the other businesses in the Collins Road NE strip mall were damaged. It has not reopened yet.
Taylor said the movie industry as a whole is facing an “existential” threat because of coronavirus, with many theaters, including his own, “on the brink of death.”
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Theaters and other public gathering venues were hurt financially after the Governor’s Office ordered them closed, and major movie studios have held back seasonal franchise blockbusters.
Taylor told The Gazette his next call after the interview was going to be to the Governor’s Office to say thank you.
Applications for the program open Nov. 9 and are available at iowabusinessrecovery.com. The deadline is 5 p.m., Nov. 16.
“In so many small towns and rural communities, a movie theater can be the lifeblood of main street,” Reynolds said in a news release.
“This program will assist movie theaters in their day-to-day operations alleviating some of the economic strain they are seeing as a result of virus mitigation and social-distancing practices.”
Movie theater chains owned outside the state, such as Milwaukee-based Marcus Theatres, also may apply for the grants, but all funds must be used for the operations of theaters in Iowa.
“We appreciate the state’s support of the movie theatre industry and plan to submit an application if we are eligible for this much-needed support, as we look to fully reopen and connect with our guests at the movies once again,” Marcus Theatres spokeswoman Mari Randa said in a statement.
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