Fans donate over $500K to Vancouver’s independent Rio Theatre so it can buy its own space

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The Star Vancouver | By | Apr 17, 2018

Corinne Lea, who owns and operates the movie theatre, is starting a new non-profit to help other arts and culture organizations grapple with the city’s affordability crisis.

VANCOUVER — After raising over half a million dollars, the Rio Theatre’s crowdfunding campaign has come to a close, and business owner Corinne Lea is already working to pay it forward.

The Vancouver Art House Society, a newly formed non-profit will manage the money raised through Lea’s campaign, and attempt to purchase the building so that the movie theatre business can continue to rent it out indefinitely. Following the purchase of the building, the VAHS will be looking to see how it can help other struggling arts groups in the city.

“Just like we did with the Rio, we could do for others,” Lea said, explaining that the organization could help with fundraising campaigns for other arts and culture spaces.

One of four remaining independent movie theatres in Vancouver, the Rio Theatre came under threat this winter when the property owners announced they had put the East Broadway building up for sale.

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Panicked, Corinne Lea began rallying with community members to raise $3.5 million for a down payment on the building. The crowdfunding campaign drew to a close late Monday night with over $500K, making history as the highest-funded campaign to save a theatre through Indiegogo’s fundraising platform. As for the rest, Lea said she will be turning to private investors.

In the midst of the fundraising chaos, Lea and others launched the VAHS and if all goes according to plan, the new non-profit will become the owner of the building.

David Duprey sits on the VAHS board and has been closely involved with its launch. He is the owner of several Vancouver bars — including The Rumpus Room, The Narrow Lounge, and The Emerald Supper Club — and wants to see creativity thrive in Vancouver.

“There’s a lot of stress out there for a lot of art spaces, I mean Red Gate’s about to have to move and the Beaumont’s got $100,000 in property taxes it has to pay a year,” he said.

The VAHS, Duprey said, will help organizations and businesses find and attract investors and advocate for art spaces at city hall.

Despite Lea and Duprey’s forward-thinking, there’s still a lot to be done to save the Rio Theatre, the VAHS’ first project. Lea said that despite the generous offers from private investors, she still needs to come up with at least $1 million for the down payment before May 7.

Challenges aside, community members remain hopeful.

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The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding, alternative finance, fintech, P2P, ICO, and online investing stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, industry stewardship, and networking opportunities to over 1600+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding and fintech industry in Canada.  For more information, please visit:  ncfacanada.org

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