The Art-House America Campaign, a new relief fund established by initial donations from the Criterion Collection and Janus Films, launches today to help the more than 150 independent movie theaters across the United States that temporarily closed to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The Art-House America Campaign aims to provide financial relief to struggling independent cinemas across the country so they can pay staff and their essential bills and survive until it is safe to reopen their doors.
The Campaign was kick-started with an initial donation of $50,000 from the Criterion Collection and Janus Films, and they are inviting friends of independent theaters and art houses everywhere to join them in this fundraising effort. The fund is being administered by the Art House Convergence, a nonprofit association dedicated to sustainability in community-based, mission-driven media exhibition.
As Christopher Nolan wrote in the Washington Post:
“When this crisis passes, the need for collective human engagement, the need to live and love and laugh and cry together, will be more powerful than ever.”
The intention of this fund is to ensure that art houses are able to reopen when safe to do so. Funds are intended to support essential payments during closure. Essential payments include those for payroll, insurance, rent, non deferrable loans, utilities, fundraising, and mortgages. Funds cannot be used for equipment purchases, future programming, or executive compensation.
Applications will be evaluated on rolling basis, based on need, and funds will be distributed as soon as an application has been approved. To qualify, a theater must be a United States–based art-house motion picture exhibitor that operates year-round and has been open and operational for at least 6 months prior to COVID-19–related closures. It cannot be publicly traded or manage more than 4 separate theaters, and 75% of staff must be based in the metro area where the theater is located.
The campaign is slated to run for one month, ending April 30, 2020, but grants will be made on a rolling basis as soon as funds are available and applications are approved.