Alamo Drafthouse founder and CEO Tim League announced Wednesday the creation of the Alamo Community Fund, a $2 million endowment intended to expand the company’s philanthropic work with charity initiatives across the country.
League — along with his wife and Drafthouse co-founder, Karrie — will provide the fund's initial $2 million. He also announced a $1 million goal for the Austin-based theater chain's charitable giving in 2019 through national and local partnerships.
“Fostering community and doing the right thing are core values for our company,” League said in a statement. “And this year we want to embed philanthropy into everything Alamo Drafthouse does.”
League was set to make the announcement on stage at the Moody Theater at ACL Live during the first day of AlamoCon, a three-day business conference for Drafthouse employees from across the country.
Representatives from Drafthouse said the fund will focus on increasing the company’s investment in public issues like educational programming (such as PBS Kids) and voter registration (via partnerships with the League of Women Voters).
The money also will help finance the nonprofit American Genre Film Archive, Drafthouse's sister film-restoration organization; outreach to customers with accessibility needs, such as the Alamo for All sensory-friendly screenings and Open Caption screenings for deaf and hearing-impaired guests; and donations to organizations like Feed America and Mobile Loaves and Fishes.
“Philanthropy has been a core value at the Drafthouse,” said Amy Averett, the company's senior director for culture and community. “We want to stay very locally focused with our giving, but we also want to grow our national partnerships. We were very interested in partnering with national organizations that can scale up, such as the League of Women Voters.”
Averett said future plans include incorporating a charitable aspect to Drafthouse's retails sales (such as items sold through the Mondo brand, which creates pop culture merchandise) and private charitable events.
Drafthouse also announced that Karrie League has assumed a new role leading the company’s sustainability effort. Plans include the elimination of plastic straws across the theater chain (to be replaced with corn-based straws that will be available upon request); waste reduction and composting; and locally sourcing ingredients and materials.
Drafthouse was founded in Austin in 1997 and was an early pioneer in the dinner-and-a-movie theater model. Over the years, it also has become known across the country for quirky film programming, including singalongs, specialized genre nights, themed screenings (like a women-and-girls-only "Wonder Woman" screening that made national headlines) and signature "no talking, no texting" warnings that play before shows.
The organization encountered controversy in 2017, when reports emerged that Drafthouse had rehired Devin Faraci, the former editor of the company's Birth.Movies.Death blog who previously had been accused by a fellow film critic of sexual assault. The revelation, which emerged around Drafthouse's Fantastic Fest film festival, caused outcry in the Austin film community, and the company fired Faraci again. Drafthouse also severed ties with film critic and Fantastic Fest co-founder Harry Knowles after allegations of sexual misconduct that year. Drafthouse subsequently implemented a code of conduct for employees and patrons.
Drafthouse now operates 36 cinema-eateries in 22 markets across 10 states. The company has more than a dozen new locations planned or under construction, including in Los Angeles; St. Louis; Orlando, Fla.; and additional New York City locations in Manhattan and Staten Island.