News Local

Community saves iconic Vancouver sign

By Jane Deacon

Corinne Lea of the Rio Theatre on East Broadway in Vancouver.
(file photo, 24 hours)

Corinne Lea of the Rio Theatre on East Broadway in Vancouver. (file photo, 24 hours)

Vancouver’s historic Rio Theatre will “keep the lights on” after donations poured in to save its iconic neon sign.

The theatre hit the $15,000 mark two days before the online campaign closed, driven largely by small donations from community supporters, said theatre co-owner Corinne Lea.

“There was definitely the day when we got all the funds that I did get teary-eyed, just realizing how much everybody has helped us,” she said. “The Rio really would not be here without the community support that we have.”

Hours before the campaign closed last night at midnight, the theatre had exceeded its goal by over $1,000, which Lea said will go towards replacing floor lighting along the theatre’s aisles.

The Rio’s now-fizzling neon sign, a fixture on East Broadway since 1938, has been in need of repairs for years, but the theatre found itself $150,000 in debt after battling the B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Branch for a liquor licence in 2012.

The theatre launched an online crowd-sourcing campaign for the sign earlier this fall to raise the money needed to replace the neon lighting, repair sockets and purchase new LED fixtures. With funds now secured, Lea expects repairs to begin in early January and be completed by mid-month – with a community celebration in order once work wraps up, said Lea.

“We are going to do an unveiling so we can celebrate with everyone and anyone who wants to come,” she said.

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