Convention Preview: Art House Convergence 2016

on December 18, 2015

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The independents return to Midway, Utah, in January

by Daniel Loria

Art House Convergence returns to Utah on January 18-21 with four days of screenings, panels, and educational sessions aimed at community-based and mission-driven independent cinemas. The latest edition of the convention once again kicks off at the Salt Lake Film Society before moving to the Zermatt and Homestead Resorts in Midway, Utah, for its remaining sessions.

This year's theme, "The Golden Age of Now," celebrates the renaissance experienced by art-house cinemas across the nation over the past several years. The resurgence of art houses in the U.S. has helped redefine the public perception of art-house cinemas from niche intellectual havens in metropolitan centers to more accessible spaces embracing communities' arts and culture scenes.

The recently announced inaugural class of theaters in the Sundance Institute Art House Project reflects this trend: 23 independent cinemas that meet a series high standards and criteria that include a deep involvement with their respective communities, strong financial standing, and recognition from peers and patrons alike. The list of theaters includes locations in urban hubs like Chicago, Dallas, and Miami and smaller destinations like Tacoma, Washington; Omaha, Nebraska; and Waterville, TK. 

The event, traditionally timed to precede the Sundance Film Festival in neighboring Park City, Utah, will include a screening and workshop of Rodrigo García's The Last Days in the Desert. García and star Ewan McGregor will be on hand to personally introduce the film on January 18. Distributor Broad Green Pictures will be collaborating with Tugg's TheatriCast to bring the film to independent theaters in spring 2016. A followup workshop session led by Nick Gonda, from crowd-sourcing distributor Tugg, and Erik Lokkesmoe, of marketing firm Different Drummer, will delve into the film's release and marketing strategy.

The latest edition of the annual conference will feature five programming streams focusing on different aspects of exhibition: Audience Development, breaking down audience demographics; Art House 101, a resource for new exhibitors to gain better insight on topics like operations, programming, marketing, and fundraising; Best Practices, addressing strategies and measures to remain competitive in today's exhibition landscape; Film Festival Alliance, featuring festival delegates and exhibitors contributing case studies and round tables; and a General Programming stream looking at pressing issues from a macro perspective.

Highlights from Art House Convergence's Audience Development Stream

Starting Young: Hooking Youth on Cinema
This session will discuss cultivating the next generation of filmgoers and film lovers. Hear from exhibitors who are actively engaging and growing audiences under 18, from Parent & Baby screenings to high school programs.

Art Houses vs. Millennials
This session will tackle the most discussed audience: millennials. Hear from several programmers (and representatives of the demographic themselves) how they have approached and engaged this audience.

Asian Pacific Films in U.S. Art Houses
With a panel made up of professionals regularly working with Asian filmmakers and distributors, this session will cover how to access, curate, and market Asian films.

Getting Personal with Your Patrons: The Secret Weapon for Increasing Your ROI
This session will dive deep into habits and preferences for ticket buying and Internet usage. With data gathered over the last 10 years from arts organizations around the country, this session will reveal findings that quantify how important it is to develop personal relationships with your patrons, and how doing so will increase membership sales and donations and foster greater loyalty.

Art House Convergence Presents the 2015 National Audience Survey
Avenue ISR is back for a third year to present the 2015 National Audience Survey data. Learn about audience trends and patterns that can help us engage moviegoers more effectively, and learn how this data can help make the case for support in your community.

Highlights from Art House Convergence's Best Practices Stream

Concessions Trends
Based on data gathered by the National Association of Concessionaires, this session will present current concessions trends and offer insight into new products-and their potential impact-on the horizon.

Credit Card EMV, PCI, Encryption, Tokenization, Interchange Explained
Are you confused by the strange terminology, acronyms, sales tactics, and rates and fees that apply to your theater's merchant account? This is your chance to have them all explained clearly and get answers from a veteran fellow theater owner and payments professional.

Filmmaker Central: Your Cinema as a Supportive Hub
This session will explore the realities and considerable benefits of turning your cinema into a community hub for filmmakers and media artists.

A Guide to Fiscal Sponsorship
Want to do an education series, set up a community project, apply for a grant, or help a local filmmaker raise funds? Learn about fiscal sponsorship-a tool that helps groups that don't have their own 501(c)(3) raise money for short- or long-term projects with a charitable goal.

Maximizing Your Team: Project Management Tools for Collaboration
This session will showcase a number of collaborative project management tools that not only help with getting things done but also engage teamwork.

Producing Live Shows in Your Venues
From booking acts to navigating contracts, this session will discuss how to produce comedy, music, and other live performances in your theaters.

Raising Your Technical Game
What are the major technical hurdles of modern digital cinema, and how can we all help to make sure content is screened correctly for our audience as well as our artists? Participants will workshop the best practices for DCP exhibition, distribution and ways to merge live-event technology with cinema.


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