Route 66 News

New Mexico aims to help old theaters

El Morro Theatre, Gallup, NM

The state of New Mexico is trying to fix up movie theaters in small towns not only for the sake of historic preservation, but also to give an economic boost.

The Associated Press reports:

An economic development program, similar to efforts in Iowa and Illinois, seeks save the often-forgotten facilities […] with help on refurbishing buildings and grants for new digital projection and sound equipment. With state funding, cities can develop new business plans and retool theaters’ dusty interiors so they can become main attractions in rural areas, New Mexico Economic Development Department Secretary Jon Barela said.
“These theaters are part of our history,” said Barela, who went to a small theater in Las Cruces as a child. “They are beautiful architectural gems and they are anchors of the community.”
Since January 2013, the state has set aside around $100,000 each for eight theaters, Barela said.

The article cites El Morro Theater in Gallup as a beneficiary. And it seems the Pecos Theatre in Santa Rosa is getting help as well.

Other theaters in New Mexico that got a boost are in Raton and Clovis.

And here’s the statistic that got my attention:

Ken Stein, president of the League of Historic American Theaters, said a historic theater in a small city has the potential to sustain 27 full-time-equivalent jobs and generate around $84,000 in revenue for state and local governments.

It’s too bad such a program hasn’t been embraced in Texas, or else the Avalon Theatre in McLean wouldn’t have gone into such a steep decline.

(Image of El Morro Theatre in Gallup, New Mexico, by Richie Diesterheft via Flickr)


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