The Austin Film Society’s effort to operate its own arthouse movie cinema has run into financial difficulties.
Little more than a year after its opening, the theater — called the AFS Cinema — has fallen short of the film society’s financial forecasts, prompting cost cuts and a determination that the facility likely will need to rely on donations indefinitely to help fund its operations, according to internal film society documents reviewed by the Austin American-Statesman.
The film society is a nonprofit entity that has received millions of dollars in financial support from Austin taxpayers through the years.
Minutes of an April 26 film society board meeting also indicate the board was preparing to downplay widespread financial challenges at the organization — characterized at the time as a “deficit” — even as a campaign was in the planning stages to raise money for Austin Studios, the 20-acre production complex in the the Mueller development in Northeast Austin that it leases from the city.
In a written statement, film society CEO Rebecca Campbell told the American-Statesman that a mid-year financial review determined some of the film society’s operations — which, according to the minutes, included the cinema, Austin Studios and the Texas Film Awards — were performing below expectations. But she said “meaningful interventions” have been made since then, and her statement didn’t address the theater specifically or any of the organization’s other divisions.
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