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Arts & Life

Film Society Plans to Reopen Des Moines' Varsity Theater

RDG Planning & Design
Architectural rendering of what a reopened Varsity Theater could look like.

In 2018, Varsity movie theater in Des Moines closed after an 80-year run. Now the nonprofit Des Moines Film Society wants to reopen it.

President of the Film Society’s board of directors, Ben Godar, says his four-year-old organization has been looking for its own home to screen independent films and hold events.

“We’ve tried to tie in a lot of education where we can to our screenings, have filmmakers in person, things like that,” says Godar. “Having our own facility is just going to give us more and more tools to do those kind of things.”

The board of directors have been working on plans to acquire the venue since it closed. They have a signed purchase agreement. Now they plan to apply for historic preservation tax credits and a capital campaign is on the way.

“We're planning to kind of roll out the specifics of that capital campaign later this summer,” says Godar. “There are significant costs to what we're looking at doing here, we're acquiring the theater, and we have a pretty substantial renovation in mind for it.”

Godar says they hope to open in May 2021.