Art Theatre CO-OP

126 W. Church Street,
Champaign, IL 61820

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Showing 1 - 25 of 35 comments

Trolleyguy on March 7, 2023 at 3:25 pm

Link to above article.Art

DavidZornig on March 6, 2023 at 10:37 pm

Price drop by owners.

DavidZornig on August 4, 2020 at 4:14 am

Owner selling off Art Theatre’s assets.

DavidZornig on February 27, 2020 at 12:32 am

Building and business for sale.
Article via Tim O'Neill.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on November 24, 2019 at 6:35 am

Two recent photos added

Khnemu on November 3, 2019 at 9:24 pm

More details on the closing of the Art Theater:

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on October 26, 2019 at 5:52 am

Bad news. Email recieved today:

Dear Friends and Community Partners of the Art Theater,

It is with deep sadness that the Art Film Foundation announces it has stopped showing films and that it will cease operations at the Art Theater on October 31, 2019.

We know that you, our members and audience, are amazing. We have made so many memories together: we’ve laughed, screamed, and cried tears of joy and sadness. We’ve shared in groundbreaking films and unique experiences, from Casablanca to Rocky Horror. When we hit rough patches in the past, you stepped up and helped us with emergency fundraising. Emergency funds help with discrete, one-time needs, and the Art Theater has remained in operation because of your passionate support and the tireless work of our wonderful staff. Unfortunately, the film industry is changing and we will face systemic challenges that show no signs of abating.

We thank you for your donations, your volunteer hours, your memberships, and your attendance. While the Art Film Foundation and the Art Theater have come to an end, we truly believe that this incredible community of cinema-lovers in the local area will carry on.

With gratitude,
The Art Film Foundation

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on June 15, 2018 at 6:56 am

I saw a movie here this week – – top-notch image and sound. Well done.

Trolleyguy on May 17, 2016 at 10:50 pm

Now known as The Art Theater CO-OP. Updated website:

sartana on November 5, 2013 at 12:59 am

Unfortunately the new owners of the ART theatre decided to not have John Allen set the EQ for their new digital sound processor so they no longer have an official HPS-4000 sound system. I hope they will reconsider this decision because an HPS-4000 system without the right tunning results in not only poor sound but is a total waste of an extraordinary sound system.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on November 4, 2013 at 1:47 pm

Art Thearer’s 100th anniversary advertisement added to photo section.

Here are some details about the celebration:

Celebrating 100 Years at the Art Theater
Tues, November 12 from 6:00PM – 10:00PM

6:00PM – From Nickel To Pixel: The Art’s History -The premiere of the new short documentary The Art Lives, produced by Luke Boyce of CU’s Emmy-award winning Shatterglass Studios! -The premiere of the new book The Art Theater: Playing Movies for 100 Years with authors Perry C. Morris, Joseph Muskin, and Audrey Wells! -An “Old Hollywood” costume contest! Dress your best & enter a chance to win The Art Theater: Playing Movies for 100 Years! -Food & drinks!

8:00 PM – TIME TRIP with the Andrew Alden Ensemble A specially-commissioned film/music event Classic shorts ranging from the earliest cinematic experiments to Buster Keaton & the 1960s avant-garde accompanied by the ANDREW ALDEN ENSEMBLE. This program was curated by Austin McCann, our GM, and Andrew Alden.

Tickets are available to the whole event ($20, $15 for co-op owners) and just for TIME TRIP with the Andrew Alden Ensemble ($15). Tickets can be purchased here.

Tim O'Neill
Tim O'Neill on November 4, 2013 at 9:24 am

Yes; the Art has digital.

sartana on September 3, 2013 at 2:34 pm

Does anyone know if the Art has switched to Digital projection??

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on October 4, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Photo of auditorium posted today.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on September 20, 2012 at 12:42 am

Another long article, this time from out of Decatur, Ill.

CHAMPAIGN — In 2013, the small, one-room theater at 126 West Church Street in Champaign will turn 100 years old. In a century of operation, it has outlasted nearly a dozen other historical theaters in the area, with the business changing hands from one owner to another on a regular basis.

But now, just a year shy of the 100th anniversary, patrons of the theater are hoping ownership will never change again as it is rechristened as the publically operated “Art Theater Co-Op.”

The co-op model of ownership came about as a concept put forth by the business’ previous operator, Sanford Hess, who realized after several years at The Art that a new form of support would be needed to keep the theater economically viable. A new board of directors was formed, and they have chosen Urbana resident Austin McCann as new Art Theater Co-Op general manager, with all the responsibilities of choosing films and planning long-term growth. It’s his responsibility to make use of the over $100,000 that was raised through the sale of $65 shares in the business, primarily intended to pay for the theater’s transition to digital projection.

“The interview process was really good and I could tell that we had similar ideas on what a cooperatively owned cinema could be,” said McCann, a Florida native who has spent several years working in the arts in Central Illinois. “I’ve been involved in the fiscal sides of art projects in Champaign-Urbana for the last few years and I needed to know all the aspects of putting together a successful arts project to get this position.”

McCann said patrons of The Art Theater Co-Op could expect a similar experience to the previous Art Theater model, with first-run independent films during the day and cult-classic late-night movie series in the evenings. He does hope to host a greater number of special events at the theater, such as the upcoming “Found Footage Festival” in mid-October.

“I hope that I offer a new level of exciting programming, but generally the theater will continue offering what it has offered,” he said. “One thing I would like to see would be more events that promote conversation between our patrons. We want them to be able to see each other as members of a film-based community that is serious about its support of the co-op and its love of film.”

Other factors, such as ticket prices, look to remain the same for the conceivable future. The theater’s website will undergo an overhaul to promote conversation about events online, and the digital projection system paid for through co-op shares will be installed sometime in 2013.

“We are trying to push back that installation somewhat because when we switch, we will have to move out our film projector because it’s too big,” McCann said. “We want to continue to be able to screen movies on film as well and we’re in the process of determining if that will be possible.”

More than anything, McCann wants to use his first days as the theater’s new general manager to thank those that made the co-op a possibility. He stresses that purchasing a share in the theater conveys “ownership, not membership,” and says the business is working on developing more perks for owners who want to invest in the future of the business. He believes the theater is an important part of the community that deserved to be saved.

“If the public didn’t step up and say ‘we want to keep this art-house cinema in Central Illinois,’ then we wouldn’t be here,” he said. “I think it’s important that there be a place like this here. Film is an important art form, and the arts themselves are an important part of a democratic society. This is a special place where members of the community can be taken out of themselves to explore new possibilities and ideas.”


Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on July 25, 2012 at 7:15 pm

Article from (IL) 7/22/12

Onarga Theater owner Randy Lizzio needs $65,000 to buy a digital projection system to keep his movie house going. But he wouldn’t think of asking a bank for a loan.

After all, the Onarga Theater, which shows first-run movies, barely breaks even.

So like the owner of the Harvest Moon Twin Drive-In Movie Theatre in Gibson City, Lizzio has turned to raising money for a digital fund.

So far, he has brought in $7,700, with about $2,500 of that coming from a taco dinner and a silent auction of donated and new items at the community center in Onarga.

“We’ve got a long way to go. We’re hoping in the process prices will come down a little bit, and hopefully, we’ll be able to meet our goal,” Lizzio said.

Mike Harroun, owner of the Harvest Moon, needs to raise even more, roughly $165,000, for digital projection systems for his two screens as the film industry moves permanently from film to all-digital releases.

So far, his digital fund is about $7,000 — and nearly $80 of that came from three Bloomington girls who gave Harvest Moon the profits from the lemonade stands they put up twice in their town.

“They wanted to keep the drive-in there because they really love coming there,” Harroun said.

Sanford Hess, operator of the Art Theater in Champaign, which turns a profit, but not a big one, knew he couldn’t afford an $80,000 digital projection system. (The costs of the systems vary according to the size of the theater, distance from the screen to projection booth and other factors.)

So last year, he recommended that a community cooperative form and take over the Art. An interim board of directors was established and set a goal of raising $100,000.

The elected co-op board recently reported that it has unofficially reached its goal — unofficial because shares ($68 each) purchased since July 4 have not yet been counted. The board is now taking applicants for a manager and expects to take over the theater in mid-August, four months earlier than expected.

The Art is among a few smaller indie theaters that apparently have survived the digital tsunami. Others haven’t been so lucky.

“It’s like a train that’s been rolling down the tracks for six years,” Hess said. “Everybody saw it coming, and finally it’s here. A lot of theaters will close. It’s unfortunate.”

Indeed, the National Association of Theatre Owners predicts that 20 percent of North American theaters, representing some 10,000 screens, will not convert to digital and will likely disappear from the American landscape.

Already, two area movie houses have shut down: the double-screen Gem in Villa Grove last year and Hoopeston’s Lorraine Theatre in April. Both buildings are for sale.

Soon after the closing of the Lorraine — an art-deco house built in the 1920s for stage events and movies — a Hoopeston resident named Scooter (his legal name) established the Friends of the Historic Lorraine Theatre Facebook page, mainly to gather ideas from the “Cornjerker Nation” on how to preserve it.

‘Unacceptable loss’

Why does saving small-town and indie movie houses matter? Michael Hurley, an owner of two independent theaters in Maine that have already undergone digital conversion, gave an answer to that in a commentary he wrote for Indiewire, published in February:

“I think of the millions of dreams and careers that have taken flight in a movie theater. I know that the economic development power of movie theaters has been profound. People want to live where there are theaters. For the same reasons that every successful city center, mall and downtown works to attract and keep a movie theater, small towns all over the world stand to lose a foundation that has kept them connected to the world. I believe the loss is unacceptable.”

And contrary to what some believe, the U.S. government, unlike some other countries, does not offer grants to help movie houses with digital conversion. Historic theaters in the United States don’t even qualify for tax credits for purchasing digital projection equipment, Hurley wrote.

Hess said people on both coasts are making the decisions that hurt small-town movie houses and drive-ins, mainly by arranging digital-projection system financing agreements that are available to only certain types of theaters.

The Art, Onarga and Harvest Moon do not qualify.

Via the agreements, Hess said, a third party basically buys the digital equipment on behalf of the theater. The third party is paid back by the movie studios over a period of time. The agreements don’t always finance all the costs of digital conversion and carry restrictions and requirements.

So Harroun, Lizzio and Hess have been forced to be creative to try to continue to provide services they feel are important to their communities.

Harroun, for example, believes there is nothing more American than going to a drive-in movie. So far, though, only six of the nearly 400 drive-ins nationwide have been able to convert to digital, he said.

“A lot of mom-and-pop ones — they’re going to close,” he said. “They can’t afford to convert; the money’s not there. I have a tremendous business and can’t afford it.”

Angels needed

While Hess tells people to go to Harvest Moon now because it might not be around much longer, Harroun believes he will raise the money for the digital conversion at the theater he has owned for 23 years.

“I’m positive I’ll keep the drive-in open. I just got to keep everybody on course,” said Harroun, who also owns Angel Services, an automotive repair and sales shop in Onarga, where he lives.

For its digital fund, the Harvest Moon so far has sold T-shirts, and purses and wallets made of film. Harroun also plans a family-friendly concert with various acts, including a headliner, on Sept. 8 at his drive-in 30 miles north of Champaign.

He’s selling $10 chances to win a 1967 Mustang he donated to the cause. The name of the winner will be drawn at the September event.

Like the Onarga and Art, Harvest Moon shows first-run movies seven nights a week. Admission is $6 a head with kids younger than 4 admitted free.

All three theaters also pride themselves on selling concessions at lower prices than the multiplexes; the Onarga Theater even sells fresh, homemade caramel corn.

Lizzio, who with his wife, Cheryl, bought the 215-seat Onarga four years ago, has been taking cues from the JEM Theatre in Harmony, Minn., when it comes to raising money for digital conversion.

The JEM turned to the community; it responded, donating more than $40,000 to the theater’s digital fund.

Lizzio points out that Harmony and Onarga are around the same size. Harmony has 1,020 residents; Onarga, 1,368.

“They’re like a success story; they were trying to raise the money, and they actually did it,” he said. “It’s very possible to do this because it’s been done by other places. Even in this economy.”

However, Lizzio realizes he and others in the same ship are running out of time. Though he’s upgraded his movie house, including the addition of digital-ready sound, he needs a digital projection system. Fox Movies has said it will not produce any 35mm films in 2013 and beyond; theater owners believe other movie studios are roughly on the same track.

So Lizzio, who also owns a sign shop in Onarga and recently started a promotional go-kart business, plans to step up fund-raising efforts in September. One will be the screening of the 1949 Gene Autry movie “Loaded Pistols.”

The single-screen Onarga Theater, which shows first-run movies seven days a week and charges $5 admission with kids 3 and younger admitted free, also sells T-shirts and on-screen advertising. All the profits from those sales go into the theater’s digital fund.

Lizzio said the majority of his fund-raising efforts will continue to be geared toward giving people something for their money, though the theater has received some no-strings-attached donations.

“I’m still positive,” he said. “I guess you have to go out, you can’t just sit back and wait and hope that people will donate. You have to be constantly out there to make more people aware of what you’re trying to do and educate them on what’s going on. A lot of people don’t know.”

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on April 5, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Night time shot from their website Link

seymourcox on May 6, 2011 at 9:19 pm

This video tells the Art history and shows rare images;
View link

kunimo on May 17, 2010 at 7:36 am

Hello, all. It has been fascinating to learn about the history of the Art Theater in all of the above posts.

I just discovered the existence of the Art Theater thanks to a lovely photo by nick512 on flickr.

I visited the website and it seems as if the new owner has a lot of wonderful ideas on how to run a theater and develop an audience!

(I worked as a film programmer and movie theater manager for many years in New York City.)

elizabethdelacruz on January 10, 2010 at 3:02 am

A recollected history (with many missing parts and subject to revision) of the New Art Theater in downtown Champaign, Illinois.

The New Art Theater building was bought in 1983 and the New Art Theater business opened with Turtle Diary in 1984 or ‘85. John Manley (1955-1991) bought the building and renamed it The ”New“ Art Theater in order to distinguish it from the former business, The Art Theater, which had been showing porn. Art Theaters were once popular throughout the country, showing independent, art, and foreign language films. Eventually, many Art Theaters began showing XXX-rated films, until VHS players and the home porn video market put the “Art” theaters out of business. The former Art Theater in downtown Champaign had been closed for several years prior to John Manley purchasing the building.

Tom Angelica, John’s business partner and former college roommate, helped John renovate and manage the building. They renovated the four apartments upstairs, fixed up the small business site on the ground floor next to the theater, and found and repaired the needed film projection equipment for the theater. John contracted with Ron Eppel to book films. Ron initially ran the New Art Theater business. Tom and John eventually took over the theater business from Ron, who later died.

The building’s ownership transferred to Warren Manley (John’s father) when John died in 1991. Warren Manley was not particularly interested in the theater business, but his wife, Lois Manley absolutely loved the New Art Theater and did her best to find ways to support the business until she died in 1998.

In the mid 90s, a small group of local film lovers self-named “The Friends of the New Art Theater” banded together to help Tom Angelica raise money for new seats with an “adopt a seat” campaign, and “An Evening with Roger Ebert” (an event that eventually became the Ebert Film Festival). Bravo, Inc. was very much a part of that group and highly important to its success. Carle Oncologist David Graham and then film student Craig Fisher were significant in the success of the “Friends” initiative. There were many others involved in the “Friends”, but I’ve forgotten their names (sorry). The Friends of the New Art Theater raised $14,000 in “An Evening with Roger Ebert”. Mr. Ebert donated his time and showed a world premier of the film Mighty Aphrodite. The Krannert Art Museum donated its space for an Ebert Gala Gathering that took place before the film premier. We served food and wine in the School of Art and Design Link Gallery, where there was also an exhibition of the Seniors in the School of Art and Design Painting program at the time. Betsy Hendrick (Hendrick House) donated the elegant catering. After the Gala at the Krannert, we then all went to the New Art for the film premier. Nancy Casey from the UIUC College of Communications assisted in coordinating and advertising the event. Tickets sold for $40.00 apiece and included the Gala gathering at the Krannert Art Museum, the film premier at the New Art, and a presentation after the film by Mr. Ebert with audience interaction.

Warren Manley sold the building to David Kraft in 2001. Tom Angelica continued to run the theater business until Mr. Boardman assumed the theater business. Mr. Boardman also had the Lorraine Theater in Hoopston, Illinois. The Lorraine Theater was a highly popular theater business, showing first run films, and a much beloved destination, drawing people from a 100 mile radius to that small town just to go to the Lorraine. I remember when Twister premiered, The Lorraine had an overturned VW Bug strategically placed in front of the theater with huge tree branches sticking out of the car, and (dry ice) smoking from the car. Word was that the Illinois State Police received several calls from people who thought there had been a tornado in Hoopston.

It would be wonderful to see the New Art Theater continue to exist. I have never met Mr. Kraft or Mr. Boardman, but central Illinois film lovers owe them both a bit of gratitude for taking the financial risks they have in keeping this wonderful theater open all these years. Tom Angelica, John Manley, Lois Manley, Warren Manley, Ron Eppel, and the “Friends of the New Art Theater” should also be remembered fondly as events unfold concerning the future of the New Art Theater.

I fantasize that someday the City of Champaign might buy the New Art Theater or that a savvy group of film lovers would form a 503©, buy the building and continue it’s now amazing 28 year legacy of showing independent, foreign, and art films in an era of cracker box multiplexes.

Elizabeth Manley Delacruz (John Manley’s sister)
Former popcorn pusher at the New Art Theater (in my spare time)
Associate Professor of Art Education
School of Art + Design
University of Illinois at Urbana

  1. I need to check this date. Everything I read says 1987 â€" but my memory is that it was in 1983.
  2. Need to check these dates too.
  3. I may have some pictures from the Evening with Roger Ebert event.
Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on January 5, 2010 at 5:32 am

Per Greg Boardman’s newsletter posted above on 12/1/09:
“While I would have loved the challenge and I love large, old, single-screen theatres, unfortunately, the owners of the Rialto Theatre did not feel the time was right for them.”

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on January 4, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Article from News-Gazette 12-27-09

Art Theater’s new owner plans changes, welcomes input
By Melissa Merli
Sunday, December 27, 2009 7:00 AM CDT

CHAMPAIGN â€" Movie lover Sanford Hess is taking over ownership of the only art-movie house in Champaign-Urbana. He has a lot of ideas but no preconceived notions.

And he’s open to input about what
he is renaming the Art Theater, currently Boardman’s Art Theatre.

I’ve found that people have not held back on giving me their ideas,“ said Hess, who takes over the single-screen venue on Jan. 1 from Greg Boardman, a Vermilion County native who has operated it since 2003.

“So many people have such good feelings about it. People tell me all their memories and experiences,” Hess said.

Hess, who moved to Champaign a year and a half ago from Chicago, appreciates the input as well as the kind of movies, mainly independent, that Boardman has booked for the theater through the end of this year.

The final one is the Coen Brothers' “A Serious Man”; Boardman also booked for Christmas Day “The Bicycle Thief,” the 1948 Italian neo-realist masterpiece directed by Vittorio De Sica.

Hess, who takes over as of Jan. 1, 2010, will show “Me and Orson Welles” the first week. The 2008 release, directed by Richard Linklater, is about a 17-year-old boy who becomes embroiled in the behind-the-scenes machinations of Welles' first production in 1937 at the Mercury Theater.

The second week the Art will show the critically acclaimed “The Messenger,” released last month, and directed by Oren Moverman. In it Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson are soldiers who knock on doors and tell people their loved ones aren’t coming back from the war.

As for the complex area of distribution, Hess is working with a professional film buyer. Hess has no prior experience running a movie house but sees that as allowing him to think outside the box. He plans to continue showing independent and other films usually not shown elsewhere.

He also plans to increase the variety of films shown at the Art, as his tastes are all over the map.

Hess, 38, admits to a fondness for popcorn movies and was looking forward to James Cameron’s “Avatar,” a blockbuster that opened last weekend. Though he said it would not be in his best interest to show the same fare as do multiplex theaters, Hess is considering some mainstream fare for the Art, particularly when the University of Illinois is not in session. Hess also loves horror movies and would like to show them at late-night screenings.

“How can you be a college town and not show midnight movies?” he asked.

He has no plans to show 3-D movies soon, but eventually will buy a digital projector that would be 3-D compliant. “I would be an idiot not to,” he said.

Other programming

Hess has ideas for other programming as well. For example, he would like to schedule group discussions, comparable to book clubs, for certain shows for moviegoers who want to stay and talk about what they just saw.

He would like to make the theater available for film festivals, among them those sponsored by University of Illinois departments. He wants to give the Art a strong local flavor by showing films and shorts by Illinois filmmakers.

He wants to further emphasize the movie house as a local business by playing, between screenings, recorded music by area musicians and to project between shows images of art by local artists.

No structural changes

He has no plans to make structural changes, saying the theater and the equipment, including surround sound, are in great condition.

Hess has no plans to remove some seats and replace them with tables and lounge chairs, though he has applied for a liquor license.

He plans to serve alcohol and coffee drinks and to expand the food menu to include fresh baked goods from Pekara, a downtown Champaign bakery and restaurant, and specialty popcorn.

And good news for Boardman’s employees: Hess plans to keep those who want to stay.

So why does Hess want to take over the Art Theater, or any movie house?

“Why not? Wouldn’t you want to have a movie theater for yourself? I’ve been trying to have my own business. I love the movies. I love going to the movies. You’re supposed to do what you love, and I decided to pursue this.”

Hess said he’s walking into a good situation as the Art is in great shape and boasts a loyal following.

Hess will rent the theater at 126 W. Church St., C, from building owner David Kraft. Boardman, who lives in California, decided not to renew the lease after this year ends, as Kraft had upped the rent.

“David has every right to seek more rent than what he was getting,” Hess said, noting the development of downtown Champaign as one reason, “and Greg had every right to end the lease.”

Hess noted that Boardman did a great job picking movies for the Art but, living in California, Boardman rarely had the opportunity to enjoy the theater in person.

Hess plans to be present as much as possible, though he wants to spend time at home, too. He and his wife, C-U native Elizabeth (born Belber) Hess, have a 3-year-old son.

Ebert weighs in

Hess plans to continue on a half-time basis his position as a corporate employee at a software company, a job he’s had for 16 years. Hess said he was surprised and flattered by Ebert’s comparison of himself to Paul Allen, a co-founder of software giant Microsoft.

Hess sees differences, though. “I’m approaching this as a business I operate as opposed to a luxury investment,” he said.

Ebert wrote recently in his online journal that Hess follows in the tradition of Allen, who renovated and operates the giant screen Cinerama in Seattle. The theater at the Art is not a giant one and cannot accommodate 70 mm films. The nearby Virginia can, Hess noted.

Ebert, an Urbana native, was delighted to learn that the Art Theater will continue, as it’s where the famed movie critic first saw “Citizen Kane” and the films of Ingmar Bergman, John Cassavetes and many others.

“For 11 years I’ve operated my annual Ebertfest a block away at the renovated and historic Virginia theater, and over those years we spoke more than once with Greg Boardman about incorporating the Art into the festival. I still hope it can be done,” Ebert wrote.

Hess said he’s amenable to working with Ebertfest.

The critic also wrote that the Thunderbird movie theater, now the Canopy Club in Urbana, close to the UI campus, is still usable as a movie house.

“It’s my dream that someday it will be operated in connection with the proposed Ebert Center for Film Studies at the University of Illinois,” wrote Ebert, who has pledged $1 million for the center.

“But for right now, the saving of the Art is the big news. How many nights I drove my ‘54 Ford across town, parked in the free lot at its side, and walked in to drink black coffee and discover the world of the cinema. For me it is a shrine.”

View link

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on December 3, 2009 at 4:03 am

Latest news from Greg Boardman:

Fellow Independent and foreign language film lovers and Boardman’s Art Theatre supporters…

What good is being on an email newsletter list, if you don’t hear the news there first?

Many of you know that I was investigating reopening the Rialto Theatre (directly across from the Art Theatre) because my lease ends at the Art on December 30, 2009.
While I would have loved the challenge and I love large, old, single-screen theatres, unfortunately, the owners of the Rialto Theatre did not feel the time was right for them.
Other locations were explored, but none would have been ready in a timely manner.

I have sold my equipment and furnishings to a new operator, Sanford Hess, who has secured a lease with the owner of the Art Theatre, David Kraft.
It is my understanding that the new operator will be using a professional film booker to secure films.
My hope and belief is the Art Theatre will continue to provide CU with quality Independent and foreign language films.

I am proud to have taken the Art Theatre from its closed and run down condition in 1993 to the best theatre in CU today.
The lobby/concession area remodel, the picture and (especially) the sound presentation, is my design.
I have booked every film shown since reopening in June of 2003. I worked with the U of I to bring French, Latin American, and Asian film festivals to the Art Theatre.

I would like to thank all of you for your interest in quality films, your attendance, and your film suggestions.
Without your support, CU would suffer with only the multiplex offerings from the corporate giants in town.
They thought we would fail. They hoped we would fail. They did what they could to bring our failure about. But in the end, Boardman’s Art Theatre performed better than the multiplexes in some head-to-head battles.
And they don’t even come close to our attendance when they attempt to show films that truly belong at the Art.
Your support for our presentation of quality Independent films now has many film distributors calling me to see if they can book their films into the Art Theatre.
We should all be proud of that.

In addition to your support, Boardman’s Art Theatre could also not have been successful without the help of talented, honest and dedicated managers and staff over the years.
And none has been better to rely on than Yvonne Green, my present manager, and her staff.

Finally, I will miss all of the above and hearing from you. I wish that I could have been at the theatre more often, to discuss with you the many fine films you have enjoyed.
I hope you continue to support the Art Theatre. Yvonne will be staying on for some time, helping with the transition.
Smart Cards will continue to be operational into the new year.
I will send out a few more newsletters before my lease is up.

PS. I wanted to show “A Serious Man” from the Coen brothers before my lease ran out, but “An Education” may take us into “Precious."
The Coen brothers' films are some of my favorites.

Greg Boardman

movietheatres on August 14, 2009 at 8:07 am

The ART is a great facility but has one problem…

The owner of the building is an EGO-MANIAC! One lease deal fell apart because the owner Mr. Kraft refuses to take his name off of the front of the building. Mr. Kraft believes he can run the theatre, but he opened a theatre out in Le Roy, Illinois and shut it down shortly thereafter.

Mr. Kraft contacted me to possibly lease the theatre, offering a triple net lease (which means the leasee pays the lease payment, maintains the building, and pays the OWNERS property taxes) at $5,500 a month not including the upkeep and the property taxes. That prices clearly reflects he’s out of touch with reality, and has no interest in the theatre, and is sadly unrealistic for a single screen theatre with 32 screens of competition within 5 or so miles.

The ART will be vacated and sit there until the lending markets bounce back and Kraft can get the money to knock it down and build condos and commercial leasing space.

What a classy guy Mr. Kraft is!