After a tenure at Guthrie’s Pollard Theatre, Kara Luther-Chapman joined the team at OKC’s Rodeo Cinema Foundation as the executive director in January. She has long been involved in Oklahoma’s arts community as an actress in live productions and film. Luther-Chapman recently graduated with her MBA from Colorado State University. We sat down with her and got her thoughts on … 

… life at Rodeo Cinema. 

My day-to-day responsibilities consist of a variety of tasks. In a small nonprofit organization, the director must lead by example. I am willing to roll up my sleeves and help with whatever duties are required; this can vary from marketing, development, financial management, public relations, curating programming or even slinging popcorn. You wear all the hats. But in a nutshell, I oversee the strategic vision and mission as guided by my incredible board of directors. 

… what enticed her about the position.

It combines both of my passions. I love live production, but I am also a huge cinephile. I used to joke that my film knowledge occupied so much space in my head without a purpose, but now I get to use it daily, beyond playing movie trivia games! 

… managing live performances versus films.

Managing an arthouse and performing arts theater are surprisingly not as different as you might think! The day-to-day tasks are very similar. But you have to program a lot more content for cinema than building a live performance season. You have to be mindful about what you are programming and ensure that it has a purpose. You have to tell everyone’s stories, not just your own. You want to incorporate equality, diversity and inclusion in everything you provide. Art should never segment us as people, but unite us together. 

… getting people back to the cinema.

The pandemic created so many new challenges. People have grown accustomed to isolation and, with the increase of direct-to-consumer streaming, feel less need for a night out at the movies. We want to remind people that it’s more than a movie; it’s an experience. Essentially, that means giving them opportunities to participate in films in new and creative ways. We encourage our patrons to strike up a conversation about what they just watched with a stranger, because you are no longer strangers after the movie. We will be programming more Q&A events, meet and greets, interactive movie experiences such as Shadowcast shows, and live accompaniment with films. In addition, we want to solidify our place as Oklahoma City’s only nonprofit arthouse and provide patrons with a diversified portfolio of events, including live music, comedy shows, and live performance and productions.

… her favorite memory thus far.

I have already been fortunate to experience several favorite moments in my short tenure. Still, when I witness a local filmmaker show their film on the big screen, it’s an absolute delight. You witness firsthand the joy of their accomplishment, from the red carpet photo opportunities to the moment the house lights dim and the audience falls silent in awe. It’s a beautiful thing to see. I am proud we provide that here in Oklahoma when other for-profit theaters do not. 

… what she’s looking forward to. 

A vacation! (Just kidding.) I’ve hit the ground running pretty hard since my start in January, and I am looking forward to seeing the foundation of success we are laying down solidify. Without a doubt, I believe that this organization is vital to the community, and with a little more awareness, people will come to call it home. Unlike anything else, it is an experience watching a movie in one of our landmark locations. For example, Rodeo Theater, located in Stockyards City, was built in 1924 and opened as a silent movie house; when you watch a film within those historic walls, you participate in an over hundred-year-old experience. Our mission is to preserve that adventure for generations to come. In essence, I am looking forward to building memories for Oklahomans. 

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