Flagler Theatre Trying to Save its Screen

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 flaglertheatre80815@gmail.com 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.



DCI Membership Benefits Offered to Save Our Screens Participants

As a nonprofit membership organization, our members are our most valuable resource in an ongoing exchange of information and ideas to build and sustain Colorado’s communities. Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI) is comprised of a diverse membership base of organizations, state agencies, local governments, businesses and individuals working toward revitalizing the downtowns, commercial districts, and town centers across the state to rebuild the economy, promote sense of community, and advance a higher quality of life for Colorado residents, businesses, and property owners. Get involved with Downtown Colorado, Inc. today to discover the wealth of benefits to your organization or business!

Independent Movie Theaters

Downtown Colorado, Inc. (DCI) is committed to assisting in building the capacity of locally owned movie theaters to support the local community’s opportunities for gathering, conducting business, and promoting culture and arts. No other organization can expose you to so many downtown revitalization, business, financing professionals, and resources. Take advantage of this amazing opportunity to network with other independent movie theaters throughout the state, and gain valuable knowledge that can help you maximize the work you are already doing for your theater and community.

Here’s how we provide maximum value for your limited membership funds:

  • Educational Events & Scholarships: Learn from national and regional experts, and maximize your networking opportunities by attending training at any or all of our 16 annual educational events. Registration and travel scholarships are available for eligible applicants. (Includes discounted registration to the Colorado Entrepreneurship MarketPlace in Spring 2014 http://www.ruralcolorado.org/Colorado-Entrepreneurship-Marketplace)
  • Training:  Gain continued access to DCI resources, including access to business and nonprofit training opportunities.
  • Networking & Mentoring: Learn from downtown revitalization, business, and financing professionals with a variety of expertise and a wealth of experience. Participate in a peer network of statewide theater owners to exchange best practices and challenges.
  • Members-Only Resource Library: Gain access to valuable downtown revitalization resources and materials specifically aimed at supporting independent movie theaters, including relevant local case studies, and various training materials for independent movie theaters.
  • Members-Only Groups: Utilize DCI’s Independent Movie Theater online group to facilitate communication and network with other theater owners, professionals and organizations involved with Save Our Screens. Online groups are a great resource to share stories, events, ideas, and provide a continued focus on developing publications and materials that link theaters to resources, contacts, and successful models.

Membership Rate:

Independent Movie Theaters, $195

DCI is offering all Independent Movie Theaters involved in Save Our Screens a one year complimentary membership!

FEATURED THEATER: The Historic Sands Theatre

As a regular part of our outreach to theater owners and operators across Colorado, we want to highlight success stories of rural and independently run theaters. We are looking for stories of creative funding campaigns, community-led support initiatives, stand-out promotional campaigns, recent awards and innovative management programs to share with your colleagues. Please send your news and updates to theaters2@downtowncoloradoinc.org.

Our first featured theater is the Historic Sands Theatre in Brush. The Sands was opened in 1916 as the Emerson Theatre and has been under the ownership of Joe Machetta since 1958. When met with the challenge of upgrading to digital projection equipment, Machetta felt overwhelmed and unsure of the new technology. He feared the required conversion would be the end of the historic Sands.

Determined to keep their theater and strong downtown anchor in business, the community soon rallied around Joe and the Sands Theatre. The local chamber of commerce shared his story and dilemma with Downtown Colorado, Inc.; it turned out his situation was a common one among Colorado’s small, independently owned theaters. Once funding was made available through DCI’s Save Our Screens grant program, the chamber assisted Joe in completing the online application.

Machetta was initially hesitant to seek outside funding assistance—he felt uneasy asking for contributions for his business. But he soon came to understand the importance of saving the theater for future generations to enjoy in the traditional, hard-working ranching community of Brush.

In addition to the efforts of the chamber, the local high school has developed a group project to deliver a social media campaign, “Save Our Sands,” in conjunction with the CommunityFunded.com campaign. As proof of interest in the continued operations of the Sands, the Save Our Sands Facebook page has received nearly 1,400 “likes” (in a community of 5,500 people!) since its launch on October 30th.  In addition, the Sands will be holding its first funding drive on Sunday November 24th, where all ticket and concession proceeds will be going to the digital conversion fund. Already a heavy social media campaign has begun, and Machetta and local supporters are excited about the prospects of meeting their fundraising goals over the coming weeks.

For more information about the progress of the Sands Theatre, and the partnerships they have formed, contact Melody at brush@brushchamber.org.

Community Funded Partnership Dates and Deadlines

DCI is aggressively working toward a November 30th campaign launch date, to coincide with Small Business Saturday, a natural fit for Colorado’s small theaters and their fundraising goals. While time is short, you can still join in the state-wide campaign. Our state-wide platform on CommunityFunded.com will allow your theater to have an individual crowd-funding presence that can take advantage of our PR and awareness efforts.

Theaters that choose to join in on the campaign will receive PR support from partners that includes:

  • Inclusion in and use of a short SOS campaign video built from video clips and photos contributed by partner theaters;
  • Access to press releases and media pitches developed by WildRockPR AND sent to their media lists;
  • Assistance from WildRock PR in developing an effective crowd-funding page;
  • Assistance in reaching out to community partners to build direct “first level” contacts;
  • Cooperative social media outreach to drive and build traffic to SOS Crowd Funding Campaign site and down to individual theater campaign sites;
  • Involvement in the aggressive outreach and PR efforts to traditional and social media campaign conducted by DCI and WildRock PR to support the SOS state-wide campaign.

Nine theaters to date have been working with DCI to share resources and provide input for the development of the campaign strategy and timeline. Participating theaters include both SOS Grant recipients as well as those that were not eligible for funds. Local campaigns are being developed by theaters to raise funds for digital conversion, screen upgrades, maintenance for neglected areas, and other theater improvements that help compliment recent digital upgrades.

Dates of importance over the coming days for participating theaters. (The following steps should be started on the date specified. It may seem overwhelming, but keep in mind that once the initial set-up phase is completed, things will settle down!)

Wednesday, November 20 (TODAY!):

  • Set up your platform on CommunityFunded.com; send us your pictures of your theater, events at the theater, people gathered in and around your theater and goofy, fun loving pictures of people truly enjoying their community theater to help build that personal touch!
  • Develop profile page content
  • Develop rewards program for campaign backers
  • Use resources provided by DCI and WildRock to develop Social Media Strategy

Friday, November 22:

  • Create local media contact list
  • Develop list of partners and vendors to support your campaign
  • Identify key influencers in community
  • Develop email contact list
  • Identify community events occurring during campaign and try to get involvement at some level

A full list of dates and deadlines has already been sent out to partner theaters who have already committed to involvement in the SOS Crowd-Funding Campaign. If you would like more information on the campaign and how to join the effort, contact the DCI office at 303/282-0625 or at theaters2@downtowncoloradoinc.org.

DCI to Launch Crowdfunded Campaign

Earlier this month DCI laid out a plan to take a state-wide umbrella approach to help raise funds to support the efforts of the Save Our Screens initiative. CommunityFunded.com is providing the platform for DCI’s crowdfunded marketing effort. By entering into this partnership, DCI will be able to link all of its social networking efforts, on-line outreach and media publicity regarding the SOS initiative to a crowd funding site that also allows for individual theaters to have a virtual presence that allows for direct fundraising to their local campaigns.

Currently, DCI is building the foundation for a full campaign. As grant applicants are contacted this week DCI is asking for them to share information regarding contact lists, general marketing and social networking efforts and gathering the things that make these theaters special such group employee photographs and individual theater history. All of this is aimed at building the list of endorsers that will eventually become contributors once the on-line fundraising phase begins in early November. While the majority of theaters that will participate are expected to be SOS Grant Awardees, ineligible SOS Grant Applicants as well as theaters who did not apply to the grant program are able to participate in this fundraising opportunity as well. If you have contact lists you would like to share or want more information on how to participate in the CommunityFunded partnership send an email to the coordinator of the SOS initiative.

Information is coming together almost daily on this crowd funding program so again, remember to like our SOS Facebook page to keep getting up to the minute information. Also keep an eye out for DCI’s new page on its site with more up to date information on the progress of SOS and links to partners and resources.

Office of Economic Development and International Trade Names Save Our Screens Grant Recipients

The first step in providing long range technical and information sharing assistance to independently owned theaters across Colorado was the SOS Grant opportunity. The ability to afford this advancement in equipment will allow theaters to not only continue to offer first-run films, but also continue to support community vitality and sense of place by making full use of new technology opportunities. Technical assistance provided by DCI in the future will allow theater owners and operators to share information and best practices to help grow their theater’s capacity as a true generator in today’s creative industries.

This past Monday, Save Our Screens initiative partners met to award and allocate funds to theaters throughout to the SOS Grant applicants in order to help complete their conversion to digital projection equipment. The 13 grant awardees will be required to show ability to purchase and install the digital equipment prior to the release of allocated funds.

A number of grant recipients have already undertaken aggressive fundraising campaigns and can immediately begin installation with grant assistance. However, the initiative partners are aware that a number of other awardees are still trying to bridge the funding gap in order to make the full digital conversion. “In our discussions of how to allocate funds we wanted to utilize the available funds to help challenge theaters and communities to raise funds not only locally, but to also jump on with broad-scoped fundraising programs provided through DCI’s SOS initiative of DCI,”  said Katherine Correll, DCI Executive Director.

In all, 18 applications were received from both non-profit run theaters and privately owned for-profit theaters. The $200,000 in grant funds made available by the State Economic Development Commission (EDC) was matched from funding from the Gates and Boettcher Foundations to assist several non-profit run theaters. Additional funding for non-profit theaters was made available from the Colorado Creative Industries program. Grant funds were targeted for theaters in communities with a population under 20,000 and located remotely from other movie theater options.

The remaining five applicants were requesting funds for equipment meant to compliment the digital equipment already purchased and installed, and as such could not be supported with EDC funding. However, DCI has entered into a partnership with CommunityFunded.com to lead a state-wide awareness and fundraising campaign, and will invite those applicants not reached by EDC funds to join on with their efforts to raise funds for their individual needs.

The 13 theaters allocated grant funds from EDC are: The Backdoor Theater (Nederland), Crow Luther Cultural Events Center (Eads), Flagler Theatre (Flagler), the Fox Theater (La Junta), The Historic Sands Theater (Brush), Kelloff Regional Center for the Arts (Monte Vista), the Liberty Theatre (Pagosa Springs), the Movie Picture Showhouse (Trinidad), Spanish Peaks Alliance for the Arts and Education for Fox Theatre (Walsenburg), Storyville Cinema (Salida), The Paradise Theater (Paonia), The Ute Theatre (Saguache), and the Westcliffe Center for Performing Arts (Westcliffe). 


DCI and Partners Launch the Save Our Screens Initiative

In late 2012, Downtown Colorado, Inc. was alerted by members of the unintended consequences of an industry-mandated conversion to digital projection by the end of 2013. Although distribution costs are lower in the digital format, the cost of conversion places a heavy financial burden on small, independently owned and rural movie houses. Rural movie operators have been faced with the challenge of investing tens of thousands of dollars or potentially closing their doors.

In recognition of the importance of local theaters to community vibrancy, DCI began the Save Our Screens (SOS) initiative. SOS has linked the resources of state agencies and private foundations to provide funding and technical assistance to rural theaters that are looking to convert to digital systems.

During the spring and summer of 2013, DCI identified thirty theaters in rural communities across Colorado. Consultants and interns then surveyed each one to establish the status of digital conversion and governance style in order to determine the needs of the theaters overall.

The following SOS services are provided by DCI through the Gates Foundation:

  • Funding opportunities through state agencies and private foundations
  • Creative fundraising strategies
  • Community buy-in planning
  • Public-private partnership development guidance
  • Long-range governance planning
  • Series of Cultural Facilities and Theaters Summits
  • Networking and information-sharing opportunities