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Owner Of Kansas City's Tivoli Cinemas Says Thursday Will Be Its Last Day

Tivoli Cinemas
The Tivoli's storefront entrance in Westport.

After nearly 40 years in business in Westport, the Tivoli Cinemas will close on Thursday, April 11, after the final screening, according to its owner, Jerry Harrington.

Harrington first made the announcement in an email addressed to patrons on Sunday night, noting that he'd opened the original Tivoli on Westport Road in 1983.

"Over the past thirty-six years, as we expanded into the 3 screen theater in 1992, we have brought you thousands of films that I hope have been worth your time and enjoyment," Harrington wrote.

"Through the years, the Tivoli has managed to adapt to the changes that have happened in the film industry. Today, however, that is no longer the case," he added. "The combination of the age of the facility, my advancing age and health issues, along with the radical shifts happening in (the) movie business have made it impossible for me to continue."

The original location was a 104-seat, one-screen theater on Westport Road, formerly the site of the Bijou Theater.

In 1992, the Tivoli expanded to three screens with a move across the street to its current location in Manor Square, showing first-run independent and foreign films, and performing arts broadcasts, as well as hosting film festivals and film classes.

With the phaseout of movies shot with 35-millimeter film, a Kickstarter campaign in 2013 helped raise more than $130,000 needed to convert the theater's auditoriums to a new digital projection system.

Credit Kickstarter
Jerry Harrington as he appeared in a photograph on the 2013 Kickstarter campaign page.

"The people of Kansas City have been generous beyond anything I could have imagined," Harrington said in his email. "But, the Tivoli can no longer survive on ticket sales alone and the costs of maintaining operations are insurmountable."

He thanked his landlords for working with him to find a solution to renovating the theater to keep it going. 

He also extended "a big thanks to my staff who have kept the Tivoli running the last couple of years while I tried to get my health back together. They have been especially kind, helpful and professional."

His greatest thanks, Harrington said, "goes to all my loyal customers over the years. Many of you I have gotten to know personally, and will miss you all the most. My deepest heartfelt thanks and appreciation for allowing me to provide you with some of the best films any theatre could have ever shown."

Harrington did not immediately respond to messages requesting comment.

Editor's note: An email sent to patrons on Tuesday stated that final screenings at the Tivoli would be Thursday, April 11, instead of Friday, April 12 (as stated in an email sent on Sunday). 

Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can reach her on Twitter at @lauraspencer.

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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