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Downtown Strong Grant: August Update - Helping Make Magic Happen for Pharaoh 4 Cinema

August 29, 2022 | MO Main Street

The Downtown Strong: Building Resilient Economies grant is a grant provided by the U.S. Economic Development Administration through Missouri Main Street Connection (MMSC) that continues to impact Missouri communities.

The impact of COVID, plight of the Pharaoh 4 Cinema in Independence, Missouri, and need for assistance was illustrated with poignant words in their Downtown Strong Grant application which resulted in the award of services. After being awarded the grant they would narrow their services in order to maximize the impact with their business’ capacity.

The story of the Pharaoh 4 Cinema is a decades long story of transformation where this independent movie house survived and changed with the tides of the industry. In 2006 they moved from a “dollar-movie house” to a first-run theater. Then in 2014, like many other independent movie houses across the county, they underwent a forced update on their projectors from film to digital, as the movie industry changed. They survived this huge financial undertaking and thought they had made it through their toughest time. However, the pandemic caught them off guard, just like everyone else.

Theaters were an industry hit hard by the pandemic when deemed unsafe to operate due to the potential spread of COVID. Pharaoh 4 Cinema found itself in a vulnerable position, but they knew there were innovative paths to engage with consumers. If it wasn’t for the Downtown Strong: Building Resilient Economies grant, they may not have been able to implement new strategies. The grant has opened the opportunity to navigate how to operate during this era of individualized technology.


Cindy McClain, from the McClain Restaurant Group who manages Pharaoh 4 Cinema, said, “Theaters hold an important place in our culture, in our communities, and our hearts. They are truly magical places; our theater is no different” in their application. They just needed help in continuing to make the magic happen.

Pharaoh 4 Cinema worked with BOLD Marketing to improve their website and provide online sales as well as develop opportunities for additional income. Dana Thomas at BOLD worked diligently to provide a website that was functional, easy to navigate and update, and included opportunities for advertising and theater rental. In addition to incorporating on-line ticket sales, BOLD worked with the Pharaoh staff to develop specific opportunities that could be included on the website.  In addition, she developed collateral materials and then helped them promote these opportunities in other ways. This project required working with multiple vendors and became quite challenging, but BOLD was able to work through the problems, train the Pharaoh staff, and provide troubleshooting in the first few weeks of implementation.

As with so many of the Downtown Strong grants, the service provided went far beyond the expectation. This was not just the development of a website or ideas on helping increase sales. It changed the way Pharaoh 4 Cinema could do business, taking back ownership and full control over their website. It is just one of their tools, but one that will help them overcome their past challenges and “make magic” happen into the future.

The services included in this article were prepared by Missouri Main Street Connection, Inc. using Federal funds under award 05-79-06056 from Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Development Administration or the U.S. Department of Commerce.

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