The Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre and the Nuart Theatre in downtown Moscow would be allowed to sell beer and wine during movies if a bill, sponsored by House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, and Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy, R-Genesee, passes the state Legislature.
Erpelding said the legislation would allow Idaho theaters listed on the National Register of Historic Places and built before 1950 to obtain a license to sell beer and wine during motion pictures.
About 13 historic theaters could benefit from the legislation.
The Kenworthy opened as a public theater in 1926, but some of the building was in use as the Crystal Theater as early as 1908, according to the Kenworthy website. The theater was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.
The Nuart Theater was built in 1935 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001, according to Cinema Treasures’ website.
Erpelding said the measure received a favorable recommendation Monday from the House State Affairs Committee and is scheduled for a House floor vote Thursday.
The bill has 11 co-sponsors, including Rep. Bill Goesling, R-Moscow.
Erpelding said he has received little opposition to the bill and believes there is a good chance it will pass.
“It’s still a long road, but I feel like there’s adequate support,” he said.
Many of Idaho’s historic theaters offer more than movie showtimes, like film festivals, plays, concerts and other live performances, Erpelding said. The law dictates that theaters can serve alcohol during those times, but not during movies with people younger than the age of 21 present.
“What I’m trying to do is clean it up so that a theater doesn’t have to walk a line and decide when they can and can’t,” he said.
Kenworthy Executive Director Christine Gilmore said the theater’s board of directors met Monday night and determined they were in support of the proposed bill.
“I think other theaters, and ourselves included, would be smart to look at the possibility of adding that to their revenue stream,” Gilmore said.
Gilmore said the theater has, in the past, invited local businesses to sell alcohol during special events, such as live performances and fundraisers.
To serve beer and wine, Gilmore said, an alcohol license would be required with the city of Moscow, Latah County and the state of Idaho, which could cost $1,200 to $1,500 per year to keep the licenses active. If the bill passes, Gilmore said the board will discuss whether it is financially feasible to purchase a license and what kind of policies would need to be instituted if alcohol is served.
Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.