The much loved Art-Repertory Cineplex, the Labia Theatre, is facing an extreme challenge this year due to all film distributors globally agreeing to move to digital. While digital tech does make film distribution more accessible and ensures consistent quality of playback, this news has come as a blow to independent cinemas worldwide for one simple reason – cost: A new digital projector costs about half a million rand.
As there is no option of continuing on celluloid, many independent theatres worldwide are closing or operating on borrowed time. For Cape Town’s Labia Theatre, with it’s four auditoriums and historically extremely reasonable ticket prices, this has been close to a deal breaker on whether this independent cinema can continue to operate. Labia Theatre owner, Ludi Kraus, is finding ways and means to try cope with the transition– but it is by no means guaranteed that they will make it.
The Labia theatre does have a strong community around her and holds a place in many peoples hearts, so with a little help from her audiences and friends, and with the help of the latest global trend in fundraising: Crowdfunding – this could become a golden opportunity that not only keeps The Labia Theatre’s doors open, but gilds the foyer too.
The Labia Theatre and Thundafund, currently South Africa’s most successful Crowdfunding platform, are launching the “Digital Gold” campaign on 24 July 2014. Fast becoming the darling of proactive filmmakers, Crowdfunding is essentially about raising a little amount of cash from many different people, which together generates a large amount of cash, enough to fund something significant. An important premise of Crowdfunding is that it is not charity: In this instance, in exchange for pledges, the Labia will give donors rewards in return, ranging from free movie tickets to the naming of her screens, depending on which specific pledge a person chooses to contribute.
This campaign means that we could see the transformation of the Labia throughout, taking her from Grunge to Vintage Glamour once again. Money raised will not only be used towards the necessary digital projectors, and paying for the renovations required to ensure they fit (e.g. bashing bigger view holes in the wall) but also to refurbish and revitalise The Labia for an overall improved audience experience. Another way the support and enthusiasm of all of us, who have fond memories of the Cape Town icon, will be repaid.