TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The Loft Cinema in Tucson just received a major boost to their bank account. Deputy Director Zach Breneman says the longtime independent arthouse applied for a Federal grant and was awarded over 1 million dollars from the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program. The program is designed to help businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic recover.
“It’s just really huge. Over the last year and a half or so we lost 90% of our biggest revenue stream in box office. We started doing virtual cinema which is where people can purchase movies through our website, we started doing open air cinema in our back parking lot,” Breneman said.
The funding comes after theatres across the country were forced to cut hours and staff and while The Loft Cinema was able to survive after a 14-month shut down they were still in need of help. The money is expected to help give them a stronger footing moving forward.
“We sort of made it by the skin of our teeth through the crisis this money that we’re getting is going to help us. While we were closed, we kept our staff fully employed through August and then kept about 70% of the staff fully employed after that,” Breneman said.
According to the U.S. Small Business Association so far 110 businesses in Arizona have applied and received assistance from the SVOG program. More than 117 million dollars has been awarded to those companies statewide.
“Having this money allows us to do free programming for the community. We have a program called solar cinema where we take movies out in a solar powered van and show movies anywhere. Now we’re up to 50% capacity doing 12 shows per day and people have really been responding well,” Breneman said.