BoxOffice @ Art House Convergence: An Introduction

In January, we are reminded of Janus (no, not the legendary distribution company, the Roman god), and are compelled to reflect back and look toward our future simultaneously. The Art House Convergence began as an idea, emerging from the first meeting of the Sundance Institute Art House Project in January 2006. There were 12 exhibitors in attendance and two dozen delegates. This year, our annual conference will have over 450 attendees from all over North America, as well as many international colleagues.

Besides the annual conference, the Art House Convergence now presents regional seminars, hosts the Art House Visiting Members program, and will be launching the newly expanded Sundance Institute Art House Project as a Good Housekeeping institutional validation program in participation with the Sundance Institute in January 2015. In addition to this growth, the IFP Festival Forum partners with the convergence during the annual January conference, providing networking and educational opportunities to film-festival professionals.

The key purpose of the Art House Convergence is to increase the quantity and quality of art-house cinema exhibition in North America. We do this by encouraging cinema exhibition that is innovative, inclusive, strives for win-win solutions, and promotes functionality and success, both financial and in terms of a humanistic and communitarian ethos. Our conferences focus on the education and professional development necessary to operate the community-minded, incredibly passionate art-house exhibitors we represent.

The result: the convergence movement has grown, and a sense of unity and camaraderie is building among art-house cinemas in North America. Art-house cinemas are looking beyond mere profit and are enthusiastically embracing a community cultural mission. For many if not most art-house operators, there has always been a mission, but now, collectively validated, it has grown much deeper. For the last eight years, our art-house community has celebrated this sense of community and unity at the Art House Convergence. Our collaborations with the IFP Festival Forum, our Art House Visiting Members program, and our upcoming Sundance Institute Art House Project program work to build that art-house community with not just cinema exhibitors but also with our cinema audiences.

We deeply appreciate the opportunity to partner with BoxOffice Pro for [their coverage] with a focus on art-house exhibition. Though we have many of the same burdens and opportunities as our commercial exhibitors, there are a few unique qualities to being an art-house exhibitor, and we are grateful to BoxOffice Pro for allowing us to share our stories.

Russ Collins is the founder of Art House Convergence and has served as CEO of the Michigan Theater since 1982.