Fine Arts Group asks for donations, will launch virtual screening platform to survive COVID-19

Movie theatres will be permitted to open Friday under guidelines announced today by the governor. File photo.

The Fine Arts Group — which runs two of the last local movie theatres in northeast Johnson County — fears that even if doors open after COVID-19, business may not be the same.

For the first time in 38 years, the Fine Arts Group is asking the community for donations to help keep Rio Theatre, 7204 W. 80th Street, and Glenwood Arts Theater, 3707 W. 95th Street, afloat.

Although the Fine Arts Group has endured hardship prior to this, Vice President Brian Mossman said the coronavirus pandemic isn’t something anyone could prepare for and that the group hasn’t had steady income since it closed theater doors March 17 — but bills and payroll still need to be paid.

“We’ve never really asked for donations or help for the last 38 years, this is the first time,” Mossman said. “I’ve always told people to spend your dollar where it matters, if you want that small business to stay around. I’m hoping people want the Fine Arts to stay around.”

While lack of income is the group’s main issue at hand, Mossman said he’s also concerned what reopening looks like.

For example the pandemic could change daily operations, with potential limits on occupancy, increased efforts to ensure people who are ill do not enter the building, and continued physical distancing. Mossman said the Fine Arts Group will have to navigate these guidelines as they come, and will rely on expert advice for any new practices.

Whether potential new practices slow down the process to get customers through the door is one thing, but his main concern is giving clientele the confidence to go back out in public, noting his clientele is generally older and therefor may be more cautious about being in public following COVID-19.

“We’re the only true art theatre in Kansas City right now,” Mossman said. “We lost the Tivoli a year ago, I would hate to lose the Fine Arts and the additional programming we offer that the big boys don’t offer.”

The Fine Arts Group is also launching a virtual screening platform to offer independent films at home for the price of a movie ticket. Mossman said 50% of the proceeds from watching a film will go directly to the Fine Arts Group. Once the platform is launched, you can watch an independent film through the Fine Arts Group by visiting the homepage here.

You can also directly donate to the Fine Arts Group here.