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Civic Theatre in Allentown must go digital or go dark

By Will Lewis, Reporter, WLewis@wfmz.com
Published On: Sep 12 2012 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 13 2012 06:07:10 PM CDT

A necessary technology upgrade is putting Allentown's Civic Theatre in a sticky spot.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

A necessary technology upgrade is putting the Civic Theatre in Allentown in a sticky spot.

The theater is trying to raise enough money to go digital and keep its movie screen from going dark for good.

"This change is happening because the industry is demanding it," said Michael Traupman, managing director of the Civic Theatre Allentown. "It's sort of imposed on us."

The Civic Theatre got its start showing silent movies and now the need to be upgraded to a digital format.

"The cost of digital conversion for a theater of this size is roughly $100,000, and for a non-profit organization like Civic, that is a pretty daunting task to raise that much money," said Traupman

The theater's smaller screen has been converted to a streaming and Blu-ray system, but that less expensive system won't work in the main 502-seat theater.

"They pretty much said do it now or die," added Traupman.

The film series at the Civic Theatre makes up one third of the total revenue. That's why it's starting the digital cinema challenge.

"If they really want art house cinema, independent films, foreign films to continue in Allentown, we really need their support to make that happen," said Traupman.
"Otherwise, it could disappear."

The group has already raised $40,000 of the money. It needs $60,000 more so it can install the new system by March 2013.