Community Foundation contributes $75,000 for film equipment at Kenyon on Main

Staff report

The Community Foundation of Mount Vernon & Knox County has granted $75,000 to make the renovated Buckeye Candy building a hub for film production.

The foundation allotted $63,000 from its general fund and $12,000 from its Harold C. and Roberta C. Johnson Fund to buy equipment for Kenyon College’s growing film program, which launched in 2011 and is slated to occupy the top two floors of the former warehouse building at 400 S. Main St.

“The Community Foundation has a decade-long record of support for repurposing vacant downtown landmarks through higher education partnerships. The Kenyon on Main initiative is the latest of these efforts that has literally reimagined downtown Mount Vernon,” said Sam Barone, executive director of the foundation.

The money will go toward a green screen and editing, color, and sound production equipment. While the priority for the space will be Kenyon students, plans also are underway to offer video production workshops to Knox County high school students. The goal is to teach them creative and technical skills that will inspire them to pursue production careers and give them an advantage when applying to college film programs.

Kenyon also hopes to rent the production facility to filmmakers during summer months by marketing the facility to state and regional film commissions and to companies that make commercials. Charging a daily rate instead of charging for each piece of equipment will emphasize the low cost of working in Knox County.

The economic benefits could be sizeable. For example, the filming of “Liberal Arts” on the Kenyon campus resulted in more than $680,000 spent in Ohio. Between 2009 and 2012, there were 27 film productions in Ohio, ranging from feature films to television episodes, that spent a total of $73.1 million in the state.

Barone said, “From feature filmmaking to a more expansive home for the Science Play-Space Initiative to the college’s Office for Community Partnerships, there is much for Knox County to anticipate in Kenyon’s historic expansion in downtown Mount Vernon.”

Work on renovating the 18,000-square-foot building began this month. Most of the first floor will be the new home to the Science Play-Space Initiative, known as SPI Spot. Kenyon acquired the building in May thanks to the support of the Ariel Foundation and the Community Foundation of Mount Vernon & Knox County and gifts from private donors.

Staff report