Radio and TV icon to help independent movie house get injection of new life
“Clooney at the Movies” - June 25, 2010 in Yellow Springs
Movie expert Nick Clooney will be dropping by town to help our independent movie theater launch an initiative to insure its sustainability. Beloved by residents, but struggling, the Little Art Theatre needed a jump start at reincarnation. Moved by the story of how villagers have rallied to support their movie house, on June 25, 2010 at 5:30 p.m. at Antioch University McGregor in Yellow Springs, Clooney will put on a program as a part of “Clooney at the Movies: An auction gala celebrating 80 years at the Little Art.”
In addition to the program by broadcast journalist Clooney, host of American Movie Classics and author of The Movies That Changed Us: Reflections on the Screen, the event will offer a silent auction, a live auction, a raffle, food, wine and beer. Admission will be $40 per person. Free movies for two for one year at the theater will be the raffle prize. The goal of organizers is not only to raise a badly needed $20,000 from the event, but to further increase community awareness of the theater’s efforts to sustain itself.
The story of the Little Art is indeed compelling. One woman had been carrying the operation of the 80-year-old single-screen independent movie theater on her back for some 30 years, first as manager under three different owners, then for 23 years as its owner. Jenny Cowperthwaite Ruka bought the operation in 1987, because, even then, the theater she so loved was in danger of going out of business. In recent years, dwindling ticket sales finally convinced her that the theater was no longer sustainable as a one-person operation.
Along the way, Ruka had organized a group called “Friends of the Little Art,” whose members helped support the operation through donations. A consultant hired by the Yellow Springs Arts Council recommended that she form an advisory group that interviewed a dozen single-screen theaters across the country. All but one had chosen to go the nonprofit route. Although she had initially resisted that course of action, Ruka was now convinced. In Oct. 2009 the IRS granted the newly formed Little Art Theatre Association 501 (c) (3) status. The theater is now operated by a board of trustees and Ruka serves as its executive director.
“It’s like having a special needs child,” Ruka said. “You love it; you nurture it; you won’t abandon it; and, eventually, you realize you cannot do it alone anymore.”
Board Chair Maureen Lynch said she loved the theater even before she came to live in the village. “I can’t imagine Yellow Springs without the Little Art,” she said. “It’s a key piece of the community.”
Since its formation, the group has been raising funds from the community and has been the recipient of a $5,000 matching grant from the Yellow Springs Community Foundation. Organizers estimate the theater needs $55,000 per year in donations and other sources of revenue to remain sustainable. The board hopes that with Clooney’s support, the June 25 event will be an important step in that direction.
Sponsors for the event are as follows:
Premier & Title Sponsor
Adoption Link, Inc.
Bob Baldwin, Jr.
Bruce Bradtmiller and Carol Cottom / Anthrotech
AC Service Curves of Yellow Springs
Dunphy Real Estate
Emporium Wines and Underdog Cafe
JCL Equipment Company, Inc.
Reichley Insurance Agency
Remax Victory – The ChrisK Group
Libby and Dan Rudolf
Yellow Springs Federal Credit Union