Howard Lovy has a nice feature on the Traverse City Film Festival in Crains Detroit that explores the brand of capitalism that has turned the State Theatre and Traverse City Film Festival into huge economic drivers for our region.
According to the festival’s own estimate, the annual event brings in between $5 million and $10 million — based on number of attendees and how much money those customers say they spend when surveyed. The film festival, a nonprofit that owns the State Theatre, reported total revenue of about $2.23 million in 2010.
Deb Lake, executive director of the film festival, described the two Michael Moores.
“There is a fictional Michael Moore — and that’s the Michael Moore that you read about in the newspapers and in the national media and on Fox News,” Lake said. “And then there’s the real Michael Moore. And they are two very different people.”
…”He really does care about trying to build economic prosperity because that’s good for people and good for families and community, so he doesn’t just pay lip service to these things,” she said.
In the eighth year of the festival, admissions to the films totaled 91,000, up 15 percent in paid ticket sales over last year. Local sponsorships were up 20 percent. Another theater will need to be added to keep up with ticket demand next year.
Doug Luciani, president and CEO of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce adds:
“It is no exaggeration to credit Michael with spearheading efforts that have resulted in the infusion of millions of dollars to the Grand Traverse region and tens of thousands of dollars of earned media on the region’s behalf,” Luciani said.
And now lessons of Traverse City are beginning to benefit other communities.
The Lake Michigan community of Manistee — about 90 miles southwest of Traverse City in a county that currently has no movie theater at all — asked Moore to do for its Vogue Theatre what he did for the State. So far, Moore has helped raise $1 million to fix the Vogue.
His formula goes something like this: Take an old downtown movie theater that has fallen on hard times because it cannot compete with the multiplex at the mall, then ask the community whether it would like to rebuild it to run it as a nonprofit that not only shows good films but also serves as a place for “all kinds of community gatherings.”
Then get the community involved in fundraising, making them stakeholders. Staff it with all volunteers and charge only $2 for popcorn. Show kids’ movies on Saturdays for only a quarter. The quarter is necessary, Moore said, to let kids know they are participating in a transaction.