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.

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