The Loft Cinema staff have routinely been good at rising to meet unexpected challenges. In what we will now remember as “normal times,” The Loft always had more balls in the air than I could even imagine was possible. So many films, special events, community partnerships, film festivals, special guests, national and global industry connections, you name it.
As we all know, these last six months have been anything but normal. This unprecedented time has been challenging for all nonprofits, especially arts organizations.
The Loft Cinema staff and board analyzed the situation in March, closed its doors on March 15, and started to implement plans to keep The Loft afloat.
The Loft Cinema was the first nonprofit I know of in Pima County to get Payroll Protection Program (PPP) funds, which made it possible for us to keep all of our staff employed through July. On August 1, some staff were furloughed, but no one has been laid off. This is a remarkable achievement and a real testament to how committed the cinema is to the people who make The Loft a community treasure.
The Loft’s Open Air Cinema is just the latest of many actions that continue to connect The Loft to its audience and its community. Open Air Cinema started on Sept. 3 and you can expect to see a lot of innovation as our outdoor venue evolves.
The Loft Cinema is also home to Tucson’s latest mural, funded by a generous anonymous donor. The mural was created by local artist Jessica Gonzales and is based on her design for the 2019 Loft Film Fest. It’s going to be a great addition to Tucson’s amazing mural scene.
Other initiatives include:
- Streaming films in partnership with distributors
- Being one of 11 American art houses to participate in the newly developed @homearts platform
- Offering curbside concessions
- Renting out all three theaters for private parties of 10 people or fewer
- Creative merchandise including COVID-related t-shirts and masks
- Taking the summer Loft Kids Fest online
- Streaming Selects, a chance to have The Loft’s program team choose films you might enjoy, based on your personal taste
- The Loft Short Film Festival takes place both outdoors in the Loft parking lot, and online, from Nov. 18 to 22.
In the meantime, The Loft is upgrading its HVAC system to improve air quality, making its restrooms more touch-free, and establishing strict protocols for safety (masks, cleaning, etc.) so that staff and customers will have a safe experience at The Loft.
The Loft has developed budget projections which indicate that the cinema can be sustained during this pandemic through the end of the year. Since nearly 67 percent of total revenue has disappeared because of the loss of box office and concessions income, these projections rely on meeting our fundraising goals.
I am very proud of everyone at The Loft Cinema and urge our community to support this authentic, unique art house so that, when the time is right, we can once again gather there to watch movies on the big screen in the dark!
Ron Barber is the president of Loft Cinema Board of Directors and a former Southern Arizona congressman.