Deal with Rec will give theater $20,000, enough to get it over goal of $40,000 for digital down payment

 The Fox Theater has been saved.

The Kickstarter fundraising effort was about halfway to its goal of raising $40,000 for a down payment on the digital projection equipment the theater needs to keep showing movies when a new benefactor arrived in the form of the West Side Recreation and park District.

The District and the Fox reached a five-year agreement that gives the Rec the rights to use the theater at certain times for community activities and advertise on the theater's famous marquee.

In exchange, the district will pay the Fox $20,000.

Hints of the deal came out yesterday afternoon in the form of a brief press release, but the news broke overnight in the social media, including an announcement on the Fox Theater Facebook page.

“Major Announcement - The West Side Park and Recreation District has agreed to partner with the Taft Fox Theater to utilize the Fox for community events,” the Facebook post said. “This partnership will provide the remaining $20,000 needed to reach our goal! The Fox will NOT close and WILL upgrade to the latest digital projection technology!”

Wednesday morning, Rec District Administrator Don Koenig talked about the deal at the weekly Taft Chamber of Commerce Sit n/s Sip.

“I think its a win-win all the way around,” Koenig said.

Under the agreement, the district till be able to use the theater when it is not showing movies for community events like dance recitals, advertise on the marquee and also advertise before and after movies. In addition, it can be used for special movie nights and senior activities.

A grassroots fundraising effort through the Kickstarter program has been underway this summer to raise the $40,000 down payment for the $200,000 total cost of digital equipment for the theater.

By the start of 2014, studios will have phased out film and will be releasing movies only in digital format.
Despite Tuesday's big announcement, the fundraising will continue to help cover the total cost of the purchase of digital equipment.
Channel 17 weather anchor Kevin Cherette will be the MC at a barbecue and raffle on Friday at the Fox. The event will run from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and include a deep pit beef or chicken breast dinner.

Another big event is planned for Sept. 14. Corbin Bernsen will be at the Fox for a special showing of 25 Hill, a movie that was partially filmed in Taft.

Bernsen, whose mother, the late Jeanne Cooper, grew up in Taft, wrote, directed and played a starring role in the movie.