The Kamas Theater's future appears to be secure.

After nearly two years of fundraising, talks with the city and a grant application, the 192-seat venue is getting a digital projector.

For Sharee Harris, who runs the theater with her husband Kevin, the announcement earlier this week came as a relief.

"It's been a long couple of years," Harris told The Park Record. "We are very grateful to the community for their support."

Next week, the theater will be closed so crews can replace the two 35 mm film projectors with a brand new digital cinema projector.

"It's one of the less expensive projectors, but my husband saw a demo and was amazed at what it could do," Harris said. "He said he walked right up to the screen and everything was so clear.

"It was also very quiet," she said. "We were used to the loud film projectors."

The quest for the new equipment began in November 2011 when the Harris's were notified by the Sundance Film Festival that it would not be using the venue because it wasn't digital.

"Movie studios these days are distributing their films digitally," she said. "We still had our old film projectors and we would have had to stop showing films."

Harris wanted to thank Kamas for helping them secure a $35,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that paid for the bulk of the projector.

A RBEG provides funds "for rural projects that finance and facilitate development of small and emerging rural businesses," according to the USDA.

"The city applied for the grant on our behalf and it was a major support for us," Harris said. "That showed how much the community was invested in the theater and that helped us secure the grant."

The Harris's had already raised $5,000 through other fundraisers held throughout the past 18 months, which helped with the grant application.

"That helped us get the grant as well, because it showed how much a new projector meant to Kamas," Harris said.

She also wanted to show her appreciation to Kamas city employee Daisy A. Hodson, who helped write the grant.

"Daisy spent hours helping me do all the paper work correctly," Harris said. "She left no stone unturned and made sure we had everything on the grant that needed to be there."

According to the terms of the grant, the projector and its additional equipment technically belong to Kamas.

"We will pay the city a small amount of money that will be set aside for the projector's maintenance," Harris said. "As we need upgrades or fixes, they will access that money to do those projects."

If the repairs exceed the available funds, the theater will pay the remaining balance.

Also, the theater will raise ticket prices by one dollar to help with replacement costs in 12 to 15 years.

"Right now admission is $5 for adults, $4 for teens and seniors and $3 for children," Harris said. "The extra dollar from each ticket will go into a fund that will be used to buy a new projector when this one wears out.

"We want to show that the grant money we received will not just be for a temporary fix and that the theater is here to stay," she said.

In order to make sure the projector works properly, the Kamas Theater building needs additional upgrades. So the Harris's will host a benefit concert on Saturday, Sept. 28, at 7 p.m. (See announcement at the bottom of this story.)

"There are some small things that have to be fixed so we can make sure everything is up to date," Harris said.

Kevin Harris said he is excited about it all and, in a way, feels a little melancholy.

"I have mixed feelings because I know I will miss the old projector," he said. "That old clickety-clack added a cool and nostalgic feel to the theater, and I'll miss that.

"But it will be such a relief to have the new projector with all the bells and whistles that will keep the Kamas Theater's doors open," Harris said. "I'm not sure what we're going to do with the old projectors, but I would like to keep at least one of them and display it in a window."

For now, he said, the old projectors will be placed in storage until a decision is made.

"We will also contact Sundance and let them know we are digital," Harris said.

The first film the Kamas Theater will screen digitally will be Dreamwork's animated "Turbo," rated PG, starting on Friday, Sept. 27. For more information, visit www.kamas-theater.com.

Kamas Theater will host benefit concert

The Kamas Theater, 30 N. Main, will hold a benefit concert on Saturday, Sept. 28, to help pay for building upgrades after its new digital projector is installed.

Performances will feature vocalists Anthony Buck, Kristie Engar and Tricia Swanson, pianists Becky Alexander and Diana Coleman, actors Ernie Doose and Gerry Graves and puppeteer Mark Pulham. Earl McNeil will emcee the event.

"They are coming to do a show that will include some musical performances, some singing, short melodramas and other fun stuff," said Sharee Harris, who, along with her husband Kevin, runs the Kamas Theater. "There are a few more things that need to be done in order for the projector to work properly in the theater and the funds raised will help us make sure we don't have any outstanding expenses."

Tickets are $10 per person ages 8 and older or $30 per family and can be purchased by visiting kamas-theater.com/benefit-concert.

Thanks to a $35,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant from the United States Department of Agriculture, Kamas, on behalf of the theater, was able to purchase a projector, preventing the theatre from shutting down.

For more information, visit www.kamas-theater.com . — Scott Iwasaki