TIPTON, Iowa — A Tipton movie theater will be taking a step in the digital direction.
Later today, the nonprofit group Hardacre Theater Preservation Association will sign a purchase agreement with the current owners for the one-screen Hardacre Theater, 112 E. Fifth St.
This past summer, the movie industry announced it will transition to all-digital production by 2015. The Hardacre Theater still currently projects 35mm film.
Greg Brown of Tipton is the president of the Hardacre Theater Preservation Association(HTPA). The group consists of members of the Tipton community.
Brown said the opportunity came to the association to purchase the theater after about a year of off-and-on negotiations.
“We couldn’t raise [any money] until we knew we’d be able to buy the theater,” Brown said. “The next step is figuring out how much it is going to take to make all the repairs and improvements to the theater.”
Brown added the HTPA will begin to strategize Tuesday on fundraising efforts. The association has had one fundraiser, from earlier this year, that saw Tipton Middle School students raise several hundred dollars through T-shirt sales.
“A small group will help with the fundraising and that should all start to get rolling next week or so,” Brown said.
Will Valet, director of the annual Hardacre Film Festival, said he’s really glad the nonprofit group is getting the chance to save the theater.
“Considering the theater is the festival’s namesake, it’s obviously really important to keep it running so the festival can continue,” Valet said. “But more than that, having a classic movie palace for our venue is really important to the experience of the film festival.”
Valet said Stuart Clark of Tipton has been leasing the theater from the building owners and operating the theater business.
“Stu deserves a great deal of credit for keeping the theater running all this time,” Valet said.
Brown said without the association stepping in, it was a given the theater would’ve eventually shut down.
“The theater is not able to make enough in ticket sales to make the $100,000 expenses for digital equipment,” Brown said.
According to Brown, the theater, which has been in continuous use since 1916, started playing movies in 1920. He said he’d like to keep that tradition going.
“We’ve got quite the project ahead of us for the next year or two,” Brown said. “It’s going to take a lot of effort and donations to get the theater weather-tight.”
To make a donation, contact Abby Kisling, community director of Tipton, at 563-886-4597.