GOSHEN — An independent movie theater is trying to strike gold with the silver screen in downtown Goshen.
Art House has transformed dramatically since the first time its doors opened last fall. Then, films were projected onto a blank wall, and moviegoers watched from folding chairs and couches. Now, the theater features a wide movie screen and plush seats for almost 50 people. The theater celebrated its opening night Jan. 10 and will likely have a grand opening at the end of February.
Ellyn Church came on board as Art House’s venue manager and cinema director about three months ago. She helped volunteers at the theater raise $15,000 with the crowdfunding website Kickstarter.com that was matched by the Elkhart County Community Foundation.
Church gained experience crowdfunding when she helped raise money for a documentary titled “Medora.” The film’s crew surpassed its goal of $18,000 by raising $65,000. Church was the film’s associate producer, and it will premiere Jan. 31 at Art House with a special screening and question-and-answer session Feb. 1.
Church has high hopes for Art House with plans to bring in plays, dance performances, intimate concerts and exhibits for visual artists.
“We want to be a resource for artists of all types,” she said.
The theater, housed on the second floor at 211 S. Main St., is still making improvements and ironing out a few kinks, Church said.
“None of us has run an independent film theater before,” she added. “I’m a filmmaker, but I’ve never worked on this side of the business before, so we’re always looking for feedback on how we can make the experience better, and we want to eventually have more screenings. Right now, we have just Friday, Saturday and Sunday, six screenings a weekend.”
Art House’s first wave of movies that will be shown through the last weekend in January include “Good Ol’ Freda,” “Samsara” and “Medora.”
“A lot of the films we’ll be showing have done really well at the biggest film festivals like Sundance, Cannes, Toronto and Tribeca, and a lot of them are the ones that will be going up for awards,” Church explained.
Church said she is optimistic about Art House’s future based on the comments she has heard from moviegoers.
“All of the responses have been so encouraging, even from people who hadn’t been here before,” she said. “People said they had no idea this was up here, that it was amazing and that they can’t wait to come back — encouraging.”