Historic Theater in Vernon, British Columbia, donated to the Okanagan Screen Arts Society – Okanagan



Vernon Towne Cinema is dripping with history.

“When I walked into this projection room and saw the old 35mm camera and all the old reels on the wall, it was just a dream come true,” said Scott John, board member of the Okanagan Screen Art Society.

“Those old Main Street palace-like cinemas are a dying breed and just to keep one would be amazing.”

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The theater opened in 1929 as a dance hall and then was converted into a theater in 1939 called the Capitol, operated by Famous Players. The theater was also operated by Landmark Cinemas for some time.

According to Vernon Towne Cinema website, the cinema was closed in the late 1990s and was reopened by Gerry Sellars as a second-run independent cinema. Now the cinema is changing hands, it has been given to the Okanagan Screen Arts Society.

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“The board started about four years ago. We are a non-profit company and we started showing independent films here on Monday nights to support some of the local filmmakers here and also to bring a different genre of films to the community, ”said Donna Elliot Okanagan Screen Arts Society , Member of the Board of Directors.

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The council has big plans in place for the local theater.

“It is a wonderful place and we hope to continue to make it a warm and welcoming place and we hope to expand what the Towne Theater is,” Elliot said.

“It’s a gathering place for the community, we would also love to see live performances so we can highlight some of our songwriters and poets.”

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The venue could fill a much-requested gap in entertainment venues, with the mid-sized venue capable of accommodating anyone from touring comedians to local musicians with a decent audience and more.

However, in order to be able to accommodate everyone comfortably, the first thing on the agenda is to modernize the cinema to make the cinema wheelchair accessible and then to screen films again when the public health orders are lifted.

“The fact that the current owner is willing to donate it to us means we have a chance to keep this place for the city,” John said.

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The company is raising funds to help cover some of the costs that the upgrades will incur and is looking for government grants that can match what is funded by the crowdfunding.

We hope that the cinema will continue to be a staple in downtown Vernon for years to come.

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