King County & the City of Seattle propose funding in support of SIFF’s acquisition of Seattle Cinerama Theater

7/27/2023 |
SIFF Press |

Councilmembers Andrew Lewis, Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Budget Chair Joe McDermott propose legislation to aid in reopening the theater in support of programming & activations for the public benefit.

SEATTLE  July 27, 2023 – Councilmember Andrew J. Lewis (District 7 - Pioneer Square to Magnolia) announced today he is proposing legislation to partner with SIFF to support the recent acquisition, reopening, and long-term operation of the Seattle Cinerama Theater. Councilmember Lewis’s legislation would authorize the City of Seattle to provide a grant to help SIFF reopen the iconic theater and support programming and activations for the public benefit. This funding is crucial to SIFF’s goal of opening the theater to the public in 2023.

“The Cinerama offers the greatest movie-going experience in the entire Pacific Northwest,” said Councilmember Lewis. “With the Cinerama in non-profit ownership for the first time in its history, these exciting new partnerships to benefit the entire community are now possible.”

In addition to the funding announced by Councilmember Lewis, the King County Budget and Fiscal Management Committee voted yesterday to include funding for SIFF in the proposed ordinance related to COVID-19; the Cinerama was permanently closed by its previous owner during the COVID-19 pandemic. Several members of the Budget Committee recognized the importance of reopening the theater to the revitalization of Downtown Seattle and to the city’s arts and culture economy. This proposed funding was sponsored and led by Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Budget Chair Joe McDermott. The full King County Council will consider this funding ordinance at its August 15 meeting.

“SIFF is honored that this space, which has provided a truly powerful experience for filmmakers and film lovers alike, is now in our hands. These funds would make it possible for us to open the theater’s doors to the public as soon as possible,” said Tom Mara, SIFF Executive Director. “We’re very eager to see the seats full again and to elevate what this space can do for artists, theater-goers, and the city at large.”

“While these funds are a huge step forward in funding this space, in the coming months, SIFF will need even more community support as we move forward with a Capital Campaign to raise funds for first year costs.” Mara continued, “We invite those who are interested in supporting this and all of SIFF's work to consider giving a gift of any amount to support us in preserving Seattle's cinema-going experience.”

The proposal put forth by Councilmember Lewis will be considered as an amendment to the mid-year supplemental budget currently being reviewed by the Finance and Housing Committee. This proposal, along with the entire supplemental budget package, is scheduled for discussion and a vote during the next committee meeting on August 2 at 9:30 AM.

SIFF announced the acquisition of the Seattle Cinerama at opening night of the 49th Annual Seattle International Film Festival with plans to reopen the theater later this year under a new name. It will become the fourth venue run by the nonprofit organization, alongside SIFF Film Center at Seattle Center, SIFF Cinema Uptown, and SIFF Cinema Egyptian—all of which offer experiences that bring people together to discover extraordinary films from around the world.

For more information, please contact Madison Zimmerman at or (206)-315-0692. To give a gift to SIFF, visit

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About SIFF:
Known for the international festival that takes place in the late spring each year, SIFF has delighted moviegoers for nearly five decades with films from all regions of the world, fostering an informed, aware, and vibrant community of film lovers. SIFF offers year-round arthouse screenings, curated mini-festivals, cinema events, and educational programs – to keep up with us, visit and find SIFF on Instagram, Twitter, Letterboxd and Facebook.