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July 17, 2020 – A thriving small-town community deserves great theaters, access to first-run movies and indie gems, world-class opera, plays and ballet. But, Grass Valley’s beloved movie theaters, Sierra Cinemas, Del Oro Theatre and Sutton Cinemas are on the verge of going dark for good. After three bleak months of lockdown, the Del Oro Theatre reopened on June 26, but was shuttered again by order of the Governor a mere 16 days later. This 41-year-old, family run, independent movie theater business may not make it through the fall and will be another victim of COVID-19 without the community’s support.
The Getz and LaMarca families have invested a lifetime to bring movies to this community every day of the year at a fair ticket price. What the Getz’s began at the Nevada Theatre in 1979 as a Sunday night film series developed, with enthusiasm contributed by hundreds of young staff members and a movie-loving audience, into a thriving community institution, bringing the best in the world of cinema to our small town theaters. Now, they need your help.
The federal stimulus loans Sierra Theaters received were not nearly enough to make up for COVID’s ongoing disruption, and that money will run out very soon. Azriel and Michael LaMarca estimate they need to raise $151,700 to make it through 2020 and come back strong in 2021. A Go Fund Me campaign has been started to to help raise these funds. Visit the page: https://www.gofundme.com/f/keep-the-lights-on-at-sierra-theaters
“Everyday we look for funding sources and strategize ways to keep the doors open. Without raising these funds, out doors will close. We delayed asking the community for help, but after this latest round of shutdowns, we felt it was time,” says Siera Theaters Vice-President, Azriel LaMarca.
Supporting the Sierra Theaters fundraising campaign supports the movie theaters and also supports jobs and the local economy:
- Sierra Theaters contribute $1.1 million dollars a year to the local economy in wages, purchases from local businesses, contractors, services, local taxes and more.
- Closing Sierra Theaters means losing a staple of the community’s cultural life, and it’s hard to imagine Grass Valley without the iconic Del Oro Theatre.
- Sierra Theaters have supported numerous local organizations over the years by donating thousands of free movie passes and hosting successful annual fundraisers for the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation, South Yuba River Citizens League, and many other local non-profits.
- Sierra Theaters serves the youth in our community through Big Brothers/Big Sisters, partnering with schools, and running the Summer Kids Movie Series.
- Sierra Theaters gave hundreds of teenagers their first job, and has witnessed the blossoming of countless friendships among their young staff.
- And, audiences come to town to see a movie, but they also visit nearby shops and enjoy meals and drinks in local restaurants and bars.
“When you need an escape, a diversion, a date, a night out, a thrill, a laugh, or a couple hours alone – the movie theaters have always been here. We know we’ll have to restructure our business going forward to respond to the disruption affecting us all, and we’re looking hard at all our options. We need your support now to help provide the time we need,” says Michael LaMarca, Sierra Theaters Vice-President. “We’d also like to acknowledge the generosity of the Nevada County Relief Fund which granted us $5,000 to pay our summer electric bills. This community is awesome, and we’re committed to continue reinvesting in it.”
Sierra Theaters also wants to bring the community’s attention to a national Action Campaign to save cinemas across the country. This grass-roots campaign, organized by the National Association of Theatre Owners, urges Congress to support the RESTART Act (S. 3814/H.R. 7481), which will give movie theaters access to partially forgivable seven-year loans covering six months of expenses, a lifeline for theaters that have been left behind by existing loan programs. Community members can support this national campaign by visiting https://saveyourcinema.com/.