In 2015, the historic Iowa Theater, in Winterset, Iowa abruptly closed. You might have heard of Winterset - it’s the birthplace of actor John Wayne and the setting and filming location of The Bridges of Madison County. It’s about 35 miles from Des Moines, Iowa’s capital.
Since then, my mother and I, alongside members of the community and historians, have been rehabilitating the space. The Iowa Theater is now a non-profit organization and is on track to reopen May 25th. When the Iowa reopens, it will be a home for film, theatrical performances, education programs and more.
I've worked in the film industry - as the Education Director at the Chicago International Film Festival for nearly a decade and as a web content producer for over five years - and I have a deep love and passion for film, which was born out of the nights and weekends I spent at the Iowa, watching films and exploring the world through cinema. I didn't want the Iowa, or a place for the community to come together and be engaged, inspired and entertained by the arts to disappear.
The community of Winterset has rallied around our efforts and supported us through donations, pledges, time and energy. To date, we’ve raised over $500,000!
Now, we ask you to join us. Your support will go towards putting the finishing touches on the Iowa’s historic art deco marquee, which has been lighting up downtown Winterset since 1928.
If you are a film lover or a John Wayne fan, if you love classic movie houses or you’re a history buff, we hope you’ll consider supporting us!
Risks and challenges
When we first acquired the Iowa, a few people said to me, "ooo, that is a risk - no one goes to the movies anymore!" But that isn't true! Not only does data show that more and more people are going back to the movies, it also shows that *young* people are rekindling their relationship with cinemas. When we did a focus group in October 2016, an attendee said, "You know, I can watch a movie on the couch at home, but it isn't the same. Going to the movies is an event, a night out, a chance to escape."
We've worked hard to make sure that the Iowa can sustain itself in many ways. As a non-profit, we have applied for (and received) local and state grant and foundation support, we've received donations and will continue to solicit support from our patrons, and we've made the space multi-purpose, allowing for rentals and special events.
The marquee is strong - it has withstood Iowa summers and winters for almost 100 years, so our main focus on its rehabilitation was to make it look pretty again and run smarter: new wiring and electric, new paint and marquee letters, a fixed "roof" and new LED lights. We've received all the necessary safety approvals and all of the project pieces and labor are in house with our team of local engineers, electricians and contractors.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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