By JIMMY LAWTON
OGDENSBURG -- The owner of Ogdensburg Cinemas says he appreciates the Adirondack North Country Association’s “Go Digital or Go Dark” campaign, but the city needs to support the industry if his theater is going to reopen.
While the campaign is aimed at stopping nine other theaters from closing as the industry switches to digital equipment, in Ogdensburg the complex has already been closed.
Owned by Ogdensburg businessman Gill Jones, the theater was closed in July of 2012, following a dispute with the city.
Jones said he had been losing money on the theater for years and kept it open for the community's sake.
In February Jones considered reopening the theater, if he could secure funding for the new digital equipment.
He requested a $100,000 loan from the city's Growth Fund, but was only approved for $60,000.
Jones declined the offer, accusing city officials of not supporting his effort to provide the service.
"The digital has got to be in place in a year or so. I am not going to open it here until funding is available," he said. "I'm not getting any cooperation from the city. I had the machines repaired, but I wasn't getting any support."
Jones said he declined the $60,000 loan because it was not enough to safely finance the new digital equipment.
"I'd like to see it open, but that won't happen until I get the support from the city or otherwise."
Despite the lack of funding Jones said he supported the Adirondack North Country Association's effort to keep local theaters open.
"It's good. They are trying to give everybody a chance to keep their doors open," he said.
ANCA Executive Director Kate Fish said theatres like Ogdensburg Cinemas are important to rural areas.
"Our small-town theaters are vital to keeping rural downtowns dynamic. The "Go Digital or Go Dark" campaign is a unique collaboration between 10 North Country theaters working together with the Adirondack North Country Association, the Adirondack Film Society and the State of New York to engage people from across the region to ensure that these theaters remain a special part of our small towns' quality of life."
The “Go Digital or Go Dark” campaign will help theaters coordinate their own fundraising effort, with the support of ANCA and other community-based organizations and “champions” to come up with 50 percent of the total funds needed to switch to digital.
ANCA and the Film Society will be raising the rest needed to complete the digital upgrade. At campaign’s conclusion, the Adirondack Film Society will administer grants to each participating theater.
Read more about the campaign here.