After a months-long campaign by its operators to raise funds to buy The Rio Theatre, after news broke that it was up for sale and could be redeveloped, the City of Vancouver has now pitched in to #SaveTheRio as well, with a $375,000 grant to the East Vancouver venue.
“Vancouver is home to a thriving arts and culture scene, and the Rio Theatre is an important cultural venue for showcasing local artists and events,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. “It’s inspiring to see so much community support come forward to raise money to save the Rio.”
Robertson added that he was “thrilled that Council approved a $375,000 grant to help save the Rio and keep the doors of this cultural landmark open for future generations to enjoy.”
Corinne Lea, the current operator of the iconic Rio Theatre, has been leading #SavetheRio, a crowd-funding and private investment campaign to purchase the venue and prevent it from being bought by developers who may not have an interest in preserving the theatre.
With the purchase deadline approaching, the City said it provided a $375,000 conditional grant “to help close the funding gap.”
The funding will be provided to Vancouver Art House Society and will contribute to the $3.8 million target which is needed as a deposit.
The Vancouver Art House Society is also applying to the federal government for a grant which, if successful, will match the City’s contribution.
“The Rio is an award-winning live performance venue and single-screen cinema that is thriving and leading the way as a model for other independent theatres to succeed,” said Lea. “The grant from the city… will help provide the local community with a historical cultural resource. By purchasing the Rio, we’re ensuring the venue will have a long sustainable future.”
The grant is conditional on the basis that the theatre must remain primarily as a cinema, and as a live entertainment venue, for the next ten years, and includes a formal Community Use Agreement. The grant is also dependent on the total fundraising amount being reached through additional federal or private investment.
The venue has held a number of fundraising nights in recent weeks, including a Deadpool double bill, which featured the film’s star and Vancouver native Ryan Reynolds sending a video message of support.