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Theater group partners with NDCF

By Staff | Dec 28, 2012

The effort to save Rugby’s movie theater has taken a few more steps forward.

At its Dec. 13 meeting, the Save the Centre Cinema Steering Committee set up five committees and set up a partnership with the North Dakota Community Foundation to manage tax-deductible charitable donations.

Brenda Foster, executive director of the Rugby Job Development Authority, said the purchase agreement to buy the building should be signed soon.

The theater is going to be operated through the end of the year by current owner David “D.J.” Anderson, and it will be up to the steering committee to decide on how the theater is operated starting in 2013.

The five separate committees are each headed by co-chairs and include fundraising, grant, theater operations, building improvement and volunteer committees.

The steering committee was scheduled to meet again on Dec. 20 with all of the sub-committes reporting back to the group as a whole.

Ft. Tom Graner, co-chair of the operations sub-committee, said that he and co-chair Scott Graham will bring a few names in front of the steering committee for a potential manager of the theater in the short term, with the hopes of keeping the continuity.

“We’re hoping to have a movie to show on the first weekend of January,” he said.

Graner said he has been speaking with various vendors and in the short term the theater will be operated as a community-run project operated by the steering committee.

A number of options are being reviewed for the future, including the possibility of a lease-to-own for a private operator.

“We’re not making definite plans,” he said. “This will be for 3-6 months. We’re trying to have an interim plan.”

Foster said there was also discussion at the Dec. 13 meeting of changing the name of the Centre Cinema back to the Lyric Theater, its previous title.

“There was some discussion about that,” Foster said. “The committee may be leaning that way. We’re doing some research on whether it was the Lyric or the Lyric Theater.”

The main piece of business settled at the meeting was to work with the NDCF to provide assistance in raising money as a fiscal sponsor with a 501-c-3 tax exempt status.

The association will allow individuals to make a charitable tax deductible donation to the theater in 2012 and going forward through the NDCF.

Individuals who would like to donate without receiving a tax deduction can contribute to the “Friends of the Lyric” account at Merchants Bank.

Foster said the theater may be shut down for a weekend or two after the purchase is made to make updates and renovations.

“We will need a weekend here and there to get in and do renovations,” she said.

One renovation that Foster said will need immediate attention is to the building’s electrical system.

“If we have the funds, we’ll utilize them,” Foster said. “If not, the JDA will pay the bill with the expectation the fundraising will pay it back.”

Members of the steering committee have been in contact with counterparts in Grafton, which is also trying to raise money to help its theater go from film to digital, a necessary upgrade planned for the Centre Cinema.

Grafton has raised $142,000 for its theater, according to Foster, who estimates that Rugby will need to raise similar funds to cover upgrades and purchase of the building.

Rugby followed Grafton’s lead by setting up both an account with the NDCF and a local bank. In Grafton, grant, fundraising, building improvement, media/public relations and community volunteer committees meet weekly and report back to a theater board.

The leaders of Grafton’s theater effort said getting youth involved is a key and gave a number of recommendations for fundraisers that have been successful in that community.

A buy-a-seat program in Grafton has yielded $11,850 and they have recognized some larger sponsors with stars embedded in the sidewalk with their names.

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