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Shuswap’s Salmar Community Association celebrates news of $100,000 grant

Federal funding comes at difficult time for movie theatre industry
Salmar Community Association board chair Chris Papworth and Salmar Theatres general manager Jodi Jones celebrate news of a successful $100,000 grant application. (Contributed)

The Salmar Community Association will be receiving an unexpected Christmas gift: a $100,000 grant.

Chris Papworth was thrilled with the news, which was shared with Salmar Community Association (CSA) members via email on Monday, Dec. 19.

“This is unusual, we don’t normally rely on grants for our operations,” said Papworth, the SCA board chair. “Usually, in normal times, the theatre is able to make enough that we can return any excess profits to the community, which we have a long history of doing. This was very unusual, and it comes at kind of the right time.”

Papworth was quick to praise Salmar Theatres’ new general manager, Jodi Jones, for finding and applying for the grant.

“She’s the one who discovered this was available and made all the relevant applications and stick handled it through to the surprising finish,” said Papworth. “We had no assurances this would result in any grant for the Salmar. It turns out that it’s coming our way. It’s fantastic – great news!”

The grant is coming from Telefilm Canada and the Canada Arts and Culture Recover Program (CACRP). Jones tearfully announced confirmation of the $100,000 grant to the Salmar board at its Dec. 15 meeting.

“This funding is a ray of light in an unknown time for us,” said Jones in a related SCA media release. “We are beyond thrilled to accept this funding and are looking forward to the future and success of the Salmar.”

The CACRP was created to help Canadian arts, cultural and heritage organizations that have experienced revenue losses due to venue capacity limitations and audience concerns about returning to performances as a result of COVID-19. Telefilm has allocated a portion of the recovery and CACRP funds through this program to support exhibitors across the country to recover and resume pre-pandemic level of activities.

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“The financial impact from the pandemic has been significant to the Salmar. Ticket sales are down, while maintenance costs of our facilities and staffing expenses have increased” comments Papworth in the release. He said the grant funding helps the SCA continue to offer entertainment for the community, providing a “a bit of a contingency fund.” The only strings attached is a requirement to show two Canadian films in the coming year.

“That’s easy for us to do and we’d be more than happy to do that,” he said.

While the Salmar Grand saw a better year, financially, than in 2021, the past couple of years have been difficult for Salmar Theatres and the movie theatre industry as as whole. The Salmar had to drastically restrict operations, including a complete shut-down for six months; with reopening a long, hard road while dealing with health authority regulations and patiently waiting for new content from major motion picture companies, reads the media release.

The SCA was formed in 1946 for the purpose of constructing an arena as a memorial to local veterans of the Second World War. It was decided to build a movie theatre to raise the necessary funds and the brand new Salmar Theatre (now the Salmar Classic) opened for business in May of 1949.

In 1997, the association built the Salmar Grand Cinemas.

“All along, the Salmar Community Association has put 100% of profits back into theatre improvements and into the community, constructing the Legion building across from the Grand, along with giving out hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to local non-profit groups to support healthcare, education, sports, and the arts,” reads the release. “The Salmar has helped to build playgrounds, fountains, trails, and helped build better futures for young people through annual scholarships to high school and college students.”

People can support the Salmar by purchasing a membership, buying pass books and coming out to watch some of the fantastic movies coming out over the holiday season. Stay tuned for two Canadian films airing at the Salmar in the coming year - an easy part of the grant requirements the Salmar is happy to comply with.
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