Celebs, art community, park board commissioner part of push to save Rio Theatre

John Kurucz / Vancouver Courier


Ryan Reynolds gave the Rio some love on Twitter as well as an undisclosed amount of money to the theatre’s fundraising efforts

Impeccable cheekbones, those washboard abs, and now, a high-profile philanthropic gesture — it appears that Ryan Reynolds can do no wrong.

The Vancouver ex-pat is the latest Hollywood celeb to lend his support to the Save the Rio Theatre crowdfunding campaign, which has about four weeks left to raise roughly $850,000.

Theatre operator Corrine Lea wouldn’t disclose Reynold’s donation amount, though getting love from A-listers does have a snowball effect each time they publicize the Rio’s plight.

“We do see a difference,” Lea told the Courier Monday. “They have such a reach and such a huge audience so that when they shine the light on something, we definitely benefit from that attention. We really appreciate them doing that.”

While Lea was mum on Reynolds, she did confirm that both Kevin Smith shows slated for March 30 are still a go. The comic suffered a heart attack in late February and nearly died.

“We’ve talked to his people,” Lea said. “He’s doing well and he’s doing all the right things to take care of himself. Fingers crossed that he keeps going along that path.”

The other Rio news of the day involves a marrying of like-minded art lovers, as the Hollywood Arts Foundation (HAF) has joined the Save the Rio efforts. Lea and fellow arts-related business types — including park board commissioner Michael Wiebe — recently formed the Vancouver Art House Society (VAHS), a non-profit with a mandate to preserve the city’s rapidly-disappearing arts and culture spaces.

It turns out the reasons for being across both groups is almost identical, making the partnership a natural fit. The merger will see the HAF become a shareholder in the Rio property when and if it’s bought, and allows Lea to offer tax receipts for donations.

As for the donor drive, the dollar figures sat at about $143,000 as of Monday afternoon. Lea’s crowdfunding goal of $1 million has to be realized by early April and roughly $3 million is needed to put down a deposit to finance a mortgage on the property. A team of roughly 20 investors — most of whom are Vancouverites — will account for the funds outside of the Indiegogo campaign, which has generated donations from Iceland, Australia, Morocco, Spain and Hong Kong.

The push to save the Rio got going in earnest in late January, when news of the 80-year-old East Van venue’s sale appeared in a real estate brochure. Lea’s offer to purchase the property from current owner Leonard Schein was accepted in mid-February and the deadline to get all the funds in order is April 7.

“I still feel really confident,” Lea said. “From my perspective, I’m getting all the emails of support, the high fives on the street, the hugs. There’s all kinds of things in the background that I can’t always share with everyone that are giving me really good indications that this is going to happen and that we’re going to be able to pull this off.”

The #SavetheRio Indiegogo page is online on Indiegogo.


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