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The Art House Convergence Conference

The Art House Convergence Conference

The Art House Convergence: January 17-20, 2011 is having its fourth annual meeting in Utah where Art house theater owners will converge to discuss the issues and new developments which concern their specialty niche in the independent film business. Chairman of the two year old event, Russ Collins, Executive Director of the Michigan Theater, (collins AT, +1 (734) 646-0528 spoke to me at length about these concerns. Other theater owner friends have discussed the issue of staying solvent in a small universe when they must fight to wrest away the “larger” art house films from cineplexes which are increasingly adding 1 or 2 venues for “art house specialty” films. While cineplexes do not attract the art house crowd, yet when it comes to a “big” art house film, they are given the booking which leaves the smaller dedicated art house theaters struggling to make ends meet while showing smaller films to smaller audiences.

Visit this link to watch trailers for current and upcoming releases by the 2011 Convergence Distributor Sponsors.
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There have been lots art house movements in last 60 years with discussions about reframing the business. The Art House Convergence is suggesting a community based look at performing arts models. During the 1950s and 60s performing arts changed from for profit endeavors to non-profit endeavors.. The LIttle Theater Movement in the 20s, today’s Art Forum, the American Cinemateque, and Lincoln Center are all non-profit organizations thus proving that Cinema, as in The Art of Cinema could all be non-profit. A robust non-profit cinema exhibition makes sens. Non-profits are more oriented to the community and community outreach.

The Program: The Art House: Building Community, Building Success

Monday, January 17, 2011
8:00 – 10:00 PM – MONDAY, JANUARY 17, 2011
Opening Reception & Art House Slide Show
Greet friends and colleagues and meet new members of the Art House movement over a drink to kick off the fourth annual Art House Convergence. Learn more about your fellow Convergence attendees by watching a slide show of theater and special event photos from attendees, prepared by Beth Gilligan of the Coolidge Corner Theatre. Cash bar. Casual attire.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

9:00 – 10:15 AM – TUESDAY, JANUARY 18, 2011
Welcome Session for New Art Houses and Convergence Attendees
This session aims to orient participants who are new to the Convergence, and those attendees who are in their first, second or third year of theater ownership or operation. The basics of theater operations and programming will be covered in a summary fashion to prepare you for delving deeper into specific aspects of the Art House during the course of the Convergence. SESSION PANELISTS: Jeffrey Jacobs, Jacobs Entertainment Inc.; Russ Collins, Michigan Theater-Ann Arbor

10:30 AM – 12:00 NOON – TUESDAY, JANUARY 18, 2011
The Art House Now!
PART 1: A Community-Based, Mission-Driven Movement by Russ Collins – Executive Director, Michigan Theater-Ann Arbor; Chair, Art House Convergence
The organizers of the Art House Convergence believe that the community-based, mission-driven Art House is a highly successful paradigm for artistic theatrical film exhibition. Russ will offer a vision for the future of the Art House movement based on promoting the bilateral growth in quantity and the quality of Art Houses across America. This is possible if community-based, mission-driven Art House theaters will commit to continuous improvement in their film programming, presentation, marketing and basic business practices. They are entitled to and, in fact, must rely on, community resources of volunteers and local philanthropy.
PART 2: The Art House Survey Project: Benchmarking Year Two
This interactive session includes a report on two years’ worth of statistical information gathered from a wide sample of Art House theaters. Find out how your theater measures up, where it excels and where it could improve. SESSION LEADER: Juliet Goodfriend, Bryn Mawr Film Institute

12:15 NOON – 2:15 PM – TUESDAY, JANUARY 18, 2011
Professional Round Table LUNCH Session
Join colleagues who share similar concerns. Delegates are encouraged to go to two sessions.
Potential Topics Include:
* Art House Makeover
* Special Film Programs that Bring In New (and Old) Audiences
* Local Film Criticism, or the Lack There Of
* Film Clubs and Other Informal Audience Development Programs
* Keep Your Theater Clean: What to Do and Not to Do
* Making the Most of Free Labor: Volunteers and Interns
* Bringing Filmmakers into the Art House: Via Skype, In Person and Beyond
* Politics of the Art House: Elected Officials, Renovation, Property Tax, Historical Designation
* Building Issues: Bricks and Mortar, Leases and Landlords
* Making the Most of Your Concessions Stand
* Taking the Art House Out of the House and Into the Community
* The For-Profit Art House: the Small Business Jobs Act and Other Opportunities/Issues
* The Disappearing 35mm Film Prints: Keeping It Celluloid
* Other ideas suggested by conference participants

2:30 – 4:00 PM – TUESDAY, JANUARY 18, 2011
Building Community Through Giving: Membership and Annual Giving Programs
To operate an independent Art House and not aggressively raise money from your community is self limiting and foolish from a business perspective. People who truly love the movies and appreciate what you do for the arts and your community believe in your work and want to support your Art House with donations. The first step to creating a robust philanthropic program is to have a highly effective membership program. The next steps are to solicit those members aggressively for additional gifts and to ask businesses AND individuals to sponsor your programs. This session will help you structure and improve your membership and sponsorship programs and teach you the basics of how to solicit annual support from your members and other community supporters of your theater. SESSION PANELISTS: Amanda Bynum, Michigan Theatre; Peggy Johnson, The Loft Cinema

2:30 – 4:00 PM – TUESDAY, JANUARY 18, 2011
Film Literacy Programs You Can Implement by Next Summer
Film literacy education is a natural extension of the Art House mission. Learn from three established and disparate programs how to create a program best suited for your Art House: The Jacob Burns Film Center (year-round programs for all ages, 27,000 square-foot Media Arts Lab); The Tampa Theatre (Summer Film Camp, collaboration with the University of South Florida’s Instructional Technology program, consumer grade equipment) and the Michigan Theatre (Summer Film Camp, overseen by filmmaker in residence, professional grade equipment. You’ll learn about equipment, staffing and space requirements, ideas for tapping into community resources, planning content that elicits positive experiences and good films, group collaboration strategies (especially when not all campers are happy), guiding overzealous ideas to manageable projects. You will receive sample worksheets for idea generation and storyboards. We’ll also watch sample projects. SESSION PANELISTS: Steve Apkon, Jacob Burns Film Center; Brian Hunter, Michigan Theatre; Tara Schroeder, Tampa Theatre

4:15 – 6:00 PM – TUESDAY, JANUARY 18, 2011
Striving for Quality Customer Service
Attempting to better serve theater patrons on a day-to-day basis is a priority for every Art House theater. What quality customer service might mean, and how we can approach it, is the topic of this session. People who have forged excellent customer service programs for their theaters and companies will share their secrets. We will also explore the concept of Continuous Improvement in Daily Operations, something that supports and fosters great customer service. Theaters that constantly seek efficient processes by identifying, reducing and eliminating sub-optimal processes serve the needs of patrons, staff and the bottom line best. SESSION PANELISTS: Roger Paul, Balboa Theatre; Dan Zastrow, Smith Rafael Film Center

4:15 – 6:00 – TUESDAY, JANUARY 18, 2011
Building Local Art House Community with Alternative Programming
Art House programming is uniquely suited to speak to diverse segments of any community, but how do you reach out to new populations and build new connections? What happens when you add opera, symphony, live performance? What do they add to the art house, what problems are encountered (pre-emption)? What programs and series have the potential to revolutionize your patron base? Is that midnight or that exotic film night idea really a good one for your community? This session will explore various strategies to connect to new potential audiences through cultural programs, live performance, grass-roots marketing, special programming initiatives & other community building activities. SESSION PANELISTS: Julie Borchard-Young, By Experience; Ira Deutchman, Emerging Pictures; Mark Rupp, Specticast; Stephanie Silverman, Belcourt Theatre

6:30 – 8:00 PM – TUESDAY EVENING – JANUARY 18, 2011
Opening Night Reception and Dinner
Join your fellow Art House colleagues and Convergence delegates at the opening night reception. Then reconnect with old friends and meet new delegates as the 3rd annual Art House Convergence kicks off in style with its celebratory opening night dinner at the Homestead. The Opening Night Dinner is included in the registration fee. Support for the opening night reception is provided by Boston Light & Sound, the specialty projection & audio gurus.

Welcome by John Cooper
John Cooper is the Director of Sundance Film Festival and Director of Creative Development, Sundance Institute. Funny, self-deprecating and approachable, Cooper is known to thousands of American filmmakers as the guy who calls with really excellent news. At Sundance he is a central figure – the armature that supports everything. Support for the opening night dinner and welcome is provided by Boston Light & Sound, the specialty projection & audio gurus, and ByExperience, distributors of NTLive.

Starting about 8:30 PM – TUESDAY EVENING – JANUARY 18, 2011
Art House Convergence After Hours
Come relax at a casual networking celebration and get to know your fellow Art House delegates. Enjoy drinks and snacks and wind down from a thought-provoking and productive day. Support for Art House After Hours is provided by ByExperience, distributors of NTLive.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

7:00 – 8:30 AM – WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 19, 2011
Complimentary Breakfast
Sponsored by Arthouse Marketing Group

8:30 – 10:00 AM – WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 19, 2011
Quality Projection and Sound: A Conversation with Chapin Cutler
Few people in the industry know as much about the technical aspects of integrating digital and film projection and theater sound. Fewer still are able to explain these things in English. And perhaps only a handful of people in the world can understand it all, explain it to any audience regardless of that audience’s technical knowledge, and entertain and inspire the audience at the same time. The Convergence is lucky to have the president and co-founder of Boston Light & Sound, who is also the Technical Director of the Sundance Film Festival, on hand for a conversation about his years in the industry, his take on where the industry is and where it is going, technically speaking, and to answer your questions about how to improve the technical presentation in your theater.

8:30 – 10:00 AM – WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 19, 2011
Making the Most of Your Board of Directors
We all know that the non-profit’s Board of Directors should be the most valuable volunteers your organization marshals to its cause. An effective board that can manage budgets and fundraise effectively is able to take an Art House to a whole new level. But few of us have any idea how to get such a board, or how to make the most of the board we have. The lucky panelists for this session will share crucial information that all non-profits should have about how to work with, manage, and make the most of your most valuable volunteers. SESSION PANELISTS: Juliet Goodfriend, Bryn Mawr Film Institute; Bob Ottenhoff, GuideStar

10:15 – 11:45 AM – WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 19, 2011
Elephant Hunting: Intermediate, Major and Capital Campaign Programs
Memberships, sponsorships and annual gifts are important, but they are just the first step in creating an effective philanthropic support system for your theater. Believe it or not, landing gifts of $10,000, $100,000 or $1,000,000 can be easier and much more productive than constantly soliciting gifts of $10 or $100 from your community. However, to effectively execute an intermediate and major gift program or to conduct a productive Capital Campaign, you must be highly organized, thoughtful, clear and dynamic when soliciting these substantial gifts. This session will teach you about the tools and techniques needed to make your organization a dynamic fund raising institution capable of accomplishing your mission in extraordinary and highly impactful ways. SESSION PANELIST: Steve Apkon, Jacob Burns Film Center

10:15 – 11:45 AM – WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 19, 2011
Small Group Consulting
Your chance to sit down with a seasoned veteran in the Art House theater field and dig into the issues and challenges that your theater faces. Four experienced operators will each meet with three people for 45
minutes to answer whatever questions come up in intensive three-on-one sessions. Attendees will be asked to sign up in advance for these sessions.

12:00 NOON – 1:30 PM – WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 19, 2011
Wednesday’s Lunch is sponsored Living Room Theatres, who will be making a brief presentation about their services.

1:45 – 3:15 PM – WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 19, 2011
The New Networking: Social Media Tools and the Art House
Social networking, email marketing, YouTube videos—what once seemed foreign & confusing should now be a part of any art house theater’s marketing and audience development plan. This session will explore how to use these tools to build audiences, engage the community, and allow your theater’s network of followers to help get the word out. Plus we’ll ask, what’s next? SESSION PANELISTS: Margot Gerber, American Cinematheque at the Egyptian & Aero Theatres; Oren Jacob, “Ready, Set, Bag”

1:45 – 3:15 PM – WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 19, 2011
David and Goliath: Dealing with Local Competition
Does the nearby Cinemall poach on your audiences with their attempt to grab the art film audience? Do you feel under siege by an army of Goliaths? Does the media ignore your programs in favor of the blockbusters? Community based, mission driven theaters have resources and strengths that make them more than a match for the giants. This session will explore challenges and successes revolving around the issue of competition from other cinemas, VOD, restaurants, cultural activities and so much more. It will also look at ways cinemas can co-exist in the marketplace — how we can all support one another, or at least strategically get along. Plan to share your own ideas and successes about what makes your venue unique and beloved by your audiences. And tell us how you reach out to new patrons. SESSION PANELISTS: Gary Meyer, Balboa Theatre; Toby Leonard, Belcourt Theatre; Connie White, Balcony Booking

3:30 – 4:15 PM – WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 19, 2011
Science on Screen: An Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Program
The Coolidge Corner Theatre’s Science on Screen series has expanded film and scientific literacy with this popular program, now in its seventh year. Throughout the academic year, SOS creatively pairs screenings of classic, cult films, and documentaries with lively presentations by notable experts from the world of science, technology, and medicine. Each film is used as a jumping-off point for the speaker to introduce current research or technological advances in a manner that engages popular culture audiences – from the function of the amygdala in the zombie brains of “Night of the Living Dead” to how far epidemiology has come since “The Andromeda Strain.” Through generous funding support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Coolidge Corner Theatre will launch a national Science on Screen initiative at the Art House Convergence. Through this initiative, the Coolidge will issue eight grants of $7,000 to art house cinemas across the country for use in implementing their own Science on Screen programming. SESSION LEADERS: Elizabeth Taylor-Mead, Coolidge Corner Theatre; Denise Kasell, Coolidge Corner Theatre; Doron Weber, Vice President, Programs, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

4:30 – 6:00 PM – WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 19, 2011
Independent Film Distribution: Beyond the Specialized Majors
Bringing great films that audiences want to see is at the core of what we do, and the mechanics of that process are one focus of this session. Which films are available to us, on what terms, and in what format, couldn’t be more central to the prospect of our immediate and long-term success. Discussion of how and why indie distributors do what they do, in both historical and nuts and bolts contexts, also offers a window on the future of independent film distribution. SESSION MODERATOR: Scott Mansfield, Monterey Media; SESSION PANELISTS: Richard Lorber, Lorber Films; Ed Arentz/Brian Andreotti, Music Box Films; Neal Block, Magnolia Films; Sarah Finklea, Janus Films

4:30 – 6:00 PM – WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 19, 2011
Small Group Consulting
Your chance to sit down with a seasoned veteran in the Art House theater field and dig into the issues and challenges that your theater faces. Four experienced operators will each meet with three people for 45
minutes to answer whatever questions come up in intensive three-on-one sessions. Attendees will be asked to sign up in advance for these sessions.

Dinner and Evening Activities TBA
Support for Wednesday night’s events is provided by the Coolidge Corner Theatre and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, supporters of the Science on Screen program to expand film and scientific literacy.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

8:00 – 9:15 AM – THURSDAY, JANUARY 20, 2011
Complimentary Breakfast
Sponsored by Arthouse Marketing Group

9:00 – 10:15 AM – THURSDAY, JANUARY 20, 2011
Extending the Art House Presence with Print and Online
With the rapid decline of newspapers comes the inevitable decline of editorial coverage for the things we do. How do we creatively maintain a dialogue with our communities through other print and on-line media? Does film criticism have a role in what we do? More and more we need to create our own media rather than relying on traditional outlets. This session will look at the state of media as it relates to film coverage and the impact it can have on sustaining our communities and developing new audiences. We’ll look at print and also talk about the ways in which our web sites can offer robust editorial content in an effort to extend the conversation beyond our walls. MODERATOR: Stephen Apkon, Jacob Burns Film Center; SESSION PANELISTS: Peter Herbst, former Editor, Premiere Magazine; Gavin Smith, Editor, Film Comment Magazine; Eugene Hernandez, Director of Digital Strategies, Film Society of Lincoln Center

10:30 AM – 12:00 NOON – THURSDAY, JANUARY 20, 2011
Balancing Film Art and Cinema Cash: The Alchemy of the Programmer’s Craft
Join fellow programmers and Art House staff to talk about the art of programming. In today’s competitive world, programming is what differentiates us from all the other ways in which our audiences can choose to spend time. Art Houses enjoy the competitive advantage of having the entire history of cinema at our disposal – transformational thinking can free us from the chains of reacting to competitors, and if something isn’t working, we can change it. This will be a free-ranging very participatory discussion – not only about what great programs/events have worked, but a discussion about ways in which we can work smarter, more collaboratively and with greater effectiveness. This is where it all starts. MODERATOR: Gavin Smith, Editor, Film Comment Magazine; SESSION PANELISTS: Brian Ackerman, Jacob Burns Film Center; Jan Klingelhofer, Pacific Film Resources; John Vanco, IFC Center

10:30 AM – 12:00 NOON – THURSDAY, JANUARY 20, 2011
The Art House Film Program Within Larger Institutions
Universities and museums house some of the most dynamic film series and programs in the nation. And at the same time, they are increasingly under fire, pressured from all sides. This session will explore the unique challenges and opportunities afforded film programs and series that operate within larger institutions. We will also explore models of “collaboration,” that most popular buzzword of foundations and donors. Although its popularity arises from necessity in the current economic climate, the benefits of the independent Art House teaming up with film programs within larger institutions range from reducing duplication, to cost savings, to increased community exposure and audience sharing. Collaborating organizations with both similar and diverse missions can overcome challenges such as cultural shifts, staffing, balancing budgets and maintaining focus on goals and core mission to emerge stronger and more effective together. SESSION PANELIST: Marian Luntz, Film Curator of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston

12:00 NOON – 1:00 PM – THURSDAY, JANUARY 20, 2011
Check Out

1:00 – 3:00 PM – THURSDAY, JANUARY 20, 2011
Lunch and Closing Key Note by Michael Moore
Michael Moore is an Oscar winning filmmaker and the founder, president and programmer of the Traverse City Film Festival and the State Theatre in northern Michigan. Combining his passion for film with his unique perspective on the industry that encompasses everything from creation to distribution to exhibition, Michael issued the Homestead Declaration at the close of the 2010 Art House Convergence, pointing to a way forward for the future of independent cinema in America. Where are we a year later, what’s next, and how do we change the world?
Support for the closing lunch and key note is provided by Film Comment.

Breakfast Meetings on Wednesday and Thursday
WEDNESDAY: Art House National Marketing Co-op Idea Breakfast
Come to a breakfast meeting on Wednesday, January 19 at 7:00 AM in Simon’s Restaurant (where breakfast will be held). Look for a table with an appropriate sign.
Learn how we might organize a co-op to provide more marketing reach for our theaters. Sign up at registration or e-mail

THURSDAY: A Discussion of National Publicity Strategies
Jordana Meade, Marketing and Public Relations Manager of the Enzian Theatre, Eden Bar and Florida Film Festival, would like to gather for breakfast interested Art House delegates who have had success getting or need help generating national publicity for their festival or high profile Art Houses on Thursday, January 20 at 7:00 AM in Simon’s Restaurant . Contact Jordana at 407-579-9806.

If you signed up for a Small Group/Private Consulting session please note the schedule below. If you thought you signed up for a Small Group/Private Consulting but your name is not listed below, please contact Russ Collins immediately at:

8:30, Wednesday, January 19 – Educational Programs
• Josh Levin, West End Cinema
• Brian Hunter, Michigan Theater

10:15, Wednesday, January 19 – Board, program and general management issues
• Dylan Skolnick, Cinema Arts Center
• Jeff Berg, Mesilla Valley Film Society

10:15, Wednesday, January 19 – Starting an Art House
• Lisa Franek, Media Arts Center San Diego
• Bob Mello, Azalea Theatre
• Ernie Quiroz, Phoenix Art Museum

10:15, Wednesday, January 19 – Managing day-to-day operations efficiently
• Amy McNutt, Citizen Theater
• Connie Rosemont, Red River Theater

10:15, Wednesday, January 19 – Programming sale are slipping, what to do.
• Billy Estes

4:30, Wednesday, January 19 – Growing fund raising and community outreach
• Jordana Meade, Enzian Theatre
• Celine Negrete, Jesse Locks

4:30, Wednesday, January 19 – Starting Austin Film Society theater
• Rebecca Campbell, Austin Film Society

4:30, Wednesday, January 19 – Increasing donor base and growing outreach
• Doug Whyte, Film Action Oregon/The Hollywood Theatre
• Landee Bryant, Maiden Alley Cinema
• Gail Lansky, Amherst Cinema

4:30, Wednesday, January 19 – Fund Raising/Grant Writing/Capital Campaign
• Peggy Johnson, Loft Cinema
• Mike Stevens, Moxie Theater

Art House Convergence Delegates:

Well over 150 people from 109 theaters and organizations will be gathering in just two weeks for the 2011 Art House Convergence, January 17-20. There are only 6 delegate spaces remaining so if you what to bring another staff member or if you know someone who was thinking about registering, but has not yet done so, encourage them to register TODAY!

— Special Program Sponsor

— Key Sponsor

— Leading Sponsors

— Distribution sponsors

— In-Kind Sponsors

(THANK YOU SPONSORS – There would be no Art House Convergence without our sponsors)

Convergence Committee
Russ Collins, Michigan Theater-Ann Arbor – Chair
Tori Baker, Salt Lake Film Society – Co-Chair
AmyBeth Leber, Salt Lake Film Society – Co-Chair
Steve Apkon, Jacob Burns Film Center, New York
Mark Fishkin, California Film Institute, Mill Valley
Beth Gilligan, Coolidge Corner Theatre, Boston
Jeffrey Jacobs, Jacobs Entertainment, New York
Denise Kasell, Coolidge Corner Theatre, Boston
Jan Klingelhofer, Pacific Film Resources, Oakland
Deb Lake, State Theatre, Traverse City
Toby Leonard, Belcourt Theater, Nashville
Lisa Ogdie, Sundance Institute Liaison
Tara Schroeder, Tampa Theater
Stephanie Silverman, Belcourt Theater, Nashville
Elizabeth Taylor-Mead, Coolidge Corner Theatre, Boston
Susan Tive, Bellingham, Washington
Connie White, Balcony Booking

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