HOBART | The Art Theater tops the list of independent theaters a national campaign is helping to keep alive, a campaign spokesman said.
The 71-year-old Art Theater, 230 Main St., was the first of the eventual 50 independent theaters across the nation that will be picked by the Keep Indie Visible campaign, Michael Covey said.
"They have not named all 50 theaters," Covey said.
The Keep Indie Visible national campaign was created by independent film producers Rich Angell and John Maggio to save landmark art house theaters.
"It's pretty special that the Hobart theater got picked," Covey said.
Covey, a production director with Sonic Equipment Co., has partnered with Keep Indie Visible as the exclusive dealer and installer of digital projectors and equipment at the selected theaters.
Since the Art Theater was one of the first theaters to be named to the list, it also will be one of the first to have the new digital equipment installed, Covey said.
"If we get all the final contracts signed by next week, then the equipment could be installed by late February," Covey said.
The cost of the new digital systems is in the $70,000 to $80,000 range, Covey said.
The threat to independent theaters across the country is real: By the end of 2013, Hollywood will only distribute movies in specific digital formats, requiring specific digital projectors, Angell said.
Donations from the Keep Indie Visible campaign will be distributed to the 50 selected theaters across the country. The only requirement is that the selected theaters agree to show five to six independent films a year, Art Theater owner Scott Frey said.
Frey said he's already held fundraisers at the theater earlier this year collecting some $800.
The Art Theater was picked to represent Indiana for a variety of reasons, Angell said, including its historical significance, the market density of its location and the passion displayed by its owners at keeping it open.
The threat of independent theaters closing down also affects independent filmmakers because there will be no place to go, Angell said.
Frey said he and his brother, Dr. William Frey, bought the Art Theater six years ago from Ed Prusiecki with the goal of keeping the downtown theater alive.
For more information about Keep Indie Visible, visit www.KeepIndieVisible.com.