New FilmScene location still short on fundraising goal

FilmScene is taking various measures to raise an additional $80,000 by 2020 to be on track for their fundraising goal. The theater opened up over a month ago and has brought in over 10,000 customers since.


Ryan Adams

The new Film Scene location located in the Chauncey building is seen on September 10, 2019.

Lauren White, News Reporter

As their fundraising deadline fast approaches, FilmScene is seeking monetary donations to fund their efforts to build and maintain the greatest small city for the arts. The call to raise more money comes just over a month after FilmScene’s new building opened its doors in September.

Through numerous fundraising efforts and a collaborative campaign with the Englert Theatre called Strengthen-Grow-Evolve, 900 donors have collectively raised $4,281,460.34 of a $6.5 million end goal.

Although the campaign is over $2 million short of its goal ahead of a deadline in early 2020, FilmScene co-founder and interim executive director Andrew Sherburne said the campaign is seeking an additional $80,000 to get back on track by Dec. 31.

Sherburne said that Strengthen-Grow-Evolve is a collaborative fundraising campaign between FilmScene and the Englert Theatre. The campaign will allow the Englert and FilmScene to update older aspects of their buildings while maintaining the historic spaces, and some of the funds will go toward support for FilmScene programming, education, and outreach.

RELATED: FilmScene Chauncey raises the curtain: a look into the new building

“Our community is renowned for our cultural opportunities and engaged citizenry,” Sherburne said. “Our campaign both supports and broadens Iowa City’s well-earned reputation as a place that values the arts.”

Iowa City Economic Development Coordinator Wendy Ford referred to the Pedestrian Mall location of FilmScene as “The Front Porch” of Iowa City, because students and more visit from all over the world.  An updated and accessible venue for FilmScene gives visitors a taste of what Iowa City is like, Ford said.

RELATED: International films screening at FilmScene through partnership with International Writing Program

Ford said the Iowa City City Council decided to invest in community arts and culture downtown a year ago in an effort to provide citizens with activities beyond an increasing party culture.

“The Englert and FilmScene Theaters came on board with this task, and many find these a worthy investment,” Ford said. “The addition of more arts and culture downtown helps to break up the chaos and nightlife that the bars in the Ped Mall bring.”

Ford said that $32,000 of FilmScene’s donations came from the Iowa City Economic Development Funds to pay for operations and a new film festival.

Iowa City’s downtown area has been experiencing a long period of construction to replace aging infrastructure and improving the area aesthetically, she added.

Ashley Monroe, Iowa City assistant city manager, said that businesses downtown increasingly vary, thanks to the Iowa City Downtown District, and the commitment of many longtime businesses that add to the stability and growth of the downtown area and the Pedestrian Mall.

When it opened, Film Scene was a new opportunity to expand the type of services and activities someone could find downtown, Sherburne said.

“Funding provided by the city for FilmScene and other venues supporting cultural arts has been supported because we want to encourage organizations to provide enhanced community-wide access to arts,” Monroe said. “Programs they’re putting on bring arts opportunities to more of our community members and not only enrich the downtown, but their benefits radiate throughout our community and campus.”

The city’s funding allocation towards FilmScene’s capital campaign over the last two years aimed to restore and renovate the historic building they occupy on the Ped Mall, Monroe said.

In 2020, FilmScene will be increasing access to and investing in diversity efforts, engaging new community groups, and expanding programming.

The most visible programming effort will be the first year of Refocus Film Festival, Sherbune said, which is a film festival devoted to adaptation of other art forms, that especially connect to the deep history that has made Iowa City known as a City of Literature.

“As we turn towards 2020, our focus turns towards the important historic preservation and modernization efforts at the Englert,” Sherburne said. “That iconic venue is in need of a reinvestment to ensure that it continues to be a comfortable space for patrons and a leading presenter of performing arts.”