But the group has now secured another downtown space where it hopes to open a one-screen, 200-seat cinema by next March. The idea is to screen both independent and second-run Hollywood films.
It's still a mystery where exactly that space is, as the building's owner isn't ready to have it revealed. An announcement is expected in the next month or so.
The FedNor grant pays for architectural designs by the firm Castellan James + Partners Architects Inc.
It also funds a salary for Mairs, a local filmmaker and entrepreneur who has taken a lead role on the project from the beginning, and was recently named project manager.
Because it's a relatively small grant, Mairs said she'll apply for more funds as needed from FedNor and other levels of government.
The cinema project also received some finances from a pair of angel investors — Roger and Chris Nash. Both film lovers, the couple said they wanted the project to succeed, and knew it needed some seed money.
Although the Sudbury Downtown Independent Cinema Co-operative has some funds now, it's looking for more as it gears up to pay for equipment and renovations.
The group is looking to contract a fundraiser willing run a $300,000 capital campaign for the co-op.
Sudbury Downtown Independent Cinema Co-operative interim president Ian Carlyle said he's optimistic the project will succeed.
Pointing to the city's support of Cinéfest Sudbury International Film Festival, Carlyle said there's an appetite for a year-round venue for independent films.
“A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes to get the project this far,” he said.
“We've met several roadblocks, and we've persisted through it. Now it's just matter of getting the location retrofitted and making the announcement of where exactly we'll be located.”
As well as cinema project supporters, the press conference was attended by Mayor Marianne Matichuk and mayoral hopeful Brian Bigger.
“This is so exciting for our city,” Matichuk said. “It's another avenue that we have for film. The film industry is growing by leaps and bounds in our community, and it's something we need to support.”