By Jenn Sheridan
With big chain movies theaters that offer 3D movie experiences, reclining seats and all of the latest releases on the big screen, it takes something special for a small cinema to survive. Since opening doors in September, the faces behind the Tahoe Art Haus & Cinema have fostered the kind of community relationships that help a business thrive in a small town.
An independent cinematographer, Steven Siig’s heart has always been in film. In addition to filming some of his own ski movies, Siig has worked with Warren Miller Entertainment, Standard Films and Auxiliary Channel, as well as Matchstick Productions and Teton Gravity Research. Although he enjoyed the hectic schedule of filming action sports, Steven began to look for ways to step away from the camera, yet remain involved in the film industry.
“He had a dream of owning a cinema, but it seemed far fetched at first,” said Melissa Siig, Steven’s wife.
However, the idea continued to grow as Steven began looking at the Cobblestone Cinema and watching for an opportunity. Then, while visiting family in Washington, Melissa suggested Steven set up an interview with a local theater owner and see if opening a cinema was the next step he wanted to take.
As luck would have it, the Cobblestone Cinema closed its doors the following January and the Siigs took it as a sign to act.
“We knew we needed a partner. My husband knows film, but we needed someone with business sense,” said Melissa.
By chance, Melissa found the perfect business partner while chatting with a friend during a trip to get ice cream. Inspired by a passion to bring life to downtown Tahoe City, Liz and Mark Gogolewski joined the team to open Tahoe Art Haus & Cinema. The lease was signed and after a top-to-bottom remodel and the addition of a beer and cider bar, the theater opened in September.
In addition to bringing movies to Tahoe City, the Siigs and Gogolewskis are building partnerships to help bring attention to all of the town’s local businesses. The owners work with restaurants including Zia Lina, Wolfdale’s and Za’s to offer discounted meals when packaged with a movie ticket.
Currently, theatergoers can received 15 percent off his or her bill at Za’s or $4 off an entrée at Zia Lina by showing a movie ticket stub from the same evening or purchasing movie tickets at the restaurants. The Cinema also hosts the Alpenglow Home Brew Series featuring presentations from local athletes and provides a venue for the Tahoe Youth Ballet performances.
For those seeking more nightlife in the area, the Tahoe Art Haus & Cinema also hosts occasional concerts and parties. A recent party with Tahoe Bass Tribe featuring DJ Stylust Beats drew a crowd of more than 200 people.
“It proved to me that we needed something like this in Tahoe City,” said Melissa.
The crew strives to bring a mix of independent films and major motion pictures to its screen and they are always open to suggestions for titles to bring in to the theater. In fact, most of the independent films they’ve shown have been suggestions from the public.
“We want to do a little bit of everything, but we’ll always be a movie theater first,” said Melissa.
The Tahoe Art Haus is now open daily. Current listings may be found at tahoearthaus.com or facebook.com/tahoearthaus.
On the big screen
“Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”
Until Jan. 8
Alpenglow Home Brew Series #3: Meghan Kelly
Jan. 9 | 7 p.m.
Jan. 12 | 7 p.m.
“ION the Barrel”
Jan. 21 | 7 p.m.
Burning Man Film Festival
Jan. 22 | 7 p.m.