For the Flagler Theatre, it wasn’t the reel-to-reel projectors or even the carbon arc lamphouse from the 1960s that was going to cause its demise – it was the digital age. The Flagler Theatre, faced with a Hollywood mandate that will make it necessary to convert all projectors to digital, didn’t know what to do. The price tag of $68,000 for the new digital projector seemed overwhelming and impossible to achieve.
Enter, Downtown Colorado Inc. (DCI). The non-profit located in Denver heard about the plight of the small rural theatres after the owner of the Sands Theatre in Brush approached them last April. DCI rallied funds from different foundations and awarded several theatres grants to help offset conversion costs and started a Save Our Screen campaign.
The DCI push was what Flagler needed to start its own fundraising campaign. The only kicker, is that the theatre has to have the projector purchased, with receipt in hand, to receive the grant monies. That is when theatre operator Cheryl Witt got to begging, um, baking for the cause. Once a month, Witt has been having a cinna-reel sale, selling pans of cinnamon rolls in addition to donated baked goods dropped off by the people in Flagler. Since starting in late September, fundraising numbers have went from $0 to $55,340, counting the money that will be received from the state. She has been getting help from others too. People are making pledges to donate, letters to alumni and people in the county were mailed to tell of the theatre’s plight. Businesses and individuals have pitched in with ways to help get closer to the needed $68,000. But they still have a ways to go.
“We have some busy weeks ahead. The FFA is serving a dinner during the Flagler/Kit Carson basketball games Saturday, Jan. 18. There will be another Cinna-Reel sale Friday, Jan. 24, at the theatre but the main event is the silent/live dinner auction that the Flagler FBLA have stepped in to help organize. It is set for Saturday, Feb. 8, at the school,” Witt stated. “We are needing donated items for the silent auction and, of course, people to come to the dinner to bid on them. We hope to have a large list of items from people from the area and hope to have a large turnout to help with the success of this project. Anyone wanting to donate or needing more information are encouraged to call me or email the theatre at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop a note to the Flagler Theatre Projector Project, PO Box 322, Flagler, 80815.”
The Flagler Theatre was built in 1930 and remains one of the few theatres around with a flat hardwood floor and one of the fewer in a town that boasts a population of 600. The theatre has served as an auditorium for the town and a place people went to roller skate because, afterall, at one time, the seats were moveable and could be stacked up against the wall. The Theatre also has ties to the east end of the county. The theatre’s interior highlights are six hand painted murals done by William Dickenson of Burlington. It is Flagler’s own blast from the past, and hopefully, a way to entertain well into the future.