Rialto Theatre in Canton

The Bradford Regional Arts Council recently presented the Rialto Theatre to the borough of Canton.

Almost two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, movie theaters are still struggling to recover; many that shuttered in March 2020 will never reopen. Most theaters have reopened, but the pre-Covid challenges presented by shrinking theatrical exclusivity windows accelerated during the pandemic and have changed the way people watch movies. It hits small-town independent movie theaters especially hard.

“Midway through the pandemic, we began having discussions on the industry Zoom meetings about the challenges and changes ahead. We began thinking about returning to the roots of these venues, live programming, community events and something more than the movies,” said Elaine Poost, executive director for the Bradford County Regional Arts Council.

The BCRAC has owned and operated Bradford County’s three operating historic theaters for the past three decades. Each theatre has a colorful history and a rich story that spans more than 100 years.

Since reopening the theaters in July for indoor events and movies, it was evident that the challenges from within the movie industry, the clog in supply chains, and the impact of online streaming services were going to create a different path forward for the BCRAC and the historic theaters.

The unique qualities of each theatre stem from the strong advocacy and support from within their separate communities. The challenges of the ongoing pandemic presented the opportunity to reimagine and act upon the changing future. The BCRAC response to those challenges as opportunities for each theatre to emerge stronger, and become more resilient was necessary and required.

In a restructuring effort to ensure the health and viability of each of Bradford County’s historic theatre venues, the BCRAC has given the Rialto Theatre to the Canton Community to continue operating the theatre under a newly-organized non-profit. This robust group that has agreed to take on the Rialto and write its next chapter.

“We see this as the best strategy for the future of all three theatres, and we are here to help in any way we are able to assist in their success.” Poost said. “The BCRAC has been a good steward, and it is time to give this venue back to the community.”

Trending Food Videos