Admittedly, renovating a historic theatre is a big, hairy, audacious goal. But that’s what I love about it. If we aren’t challenging ourselves, our community, and continuing to throw crazy awesomeness out into the world to see what sticks, then things get stale and boring. I live on the excitement of ideas and the potential of this community.
I’m sure the community at large will have many questions about this project. That’s fantastic, it means you care, it means your interested, and means you have come to the right place. We want you to LOVE this project as much as we do, and we want you to feel comfortable and hopped up on life about investing in this project and the community.
Let’s address some questions we have already received!
#1 It is boatload of money to raise in (insert any excuse you can come up with here; economic climate, small population, etc) _________________________?
Yes it is! This community has history of coming together for a common goal, has amazing volunteers, and community engagement. Frankly, this community has seen much bigger, more expensive, more controversial, more complicated projects succeed. Examples include; Pinedale Aquatic Center ($21mil), Boulder and Daniel Community Center Renovations (over $1mil each), Pinedale Infrastructure Projects (+$40mill), The Library, The Museum, The Ice Arena, and numerous others.
We are confident the community will love this project! We have structured our 1st fundraising strategy to raise $170K towards the purchase price ($160K property, $10K admin) to attract half of Sublette Counties population about 4300 people to donate just $40 each. This will allow a large portion of the community to support this project and be involved for a very affordable amount. We will eat the elephant one bite at a time! Naturally, we will be looking for individuals and organizations that are willing and able to invest more. The more we raise in Phase 1, the less complicated the grant financing structure in Phase 2 will be.
#2 Speaking of the above projects, how will this project be sustain itself in future years?
I’m glad you asked! You are absolutely right, this County has been fortunate to build numerous amazing public facilities that are now faced with dwindling revenues and the big question of how to sustain themselves.
The Skyline Theatre will operate under a non-profit designation, that being said a non-profit is a legal designation not a business model. As such we have designed the theatre to operate to generate profit and provide jobs, without relying on grants to supplement revenue. This does not mean we will not apply for grants, it simply means we can operate without them. All revenues will have to pay for expenses. We will be charging market rate for tickets, concessions, and venue rentals. We have developed several conservative operating scenerios based on being open 7 days a week versus 4 days a week, with various realistic levels of ticket and concession sales. These scenerios have generated very positive returns. The difference between a for-profit and non-profit business model, is the for-profits return profits to the shareholders. In a non-profit model, profits are continually reinvested into the mission. For the Theatre this means first setting up a fund, possibly an endowment to fund the building maintenance and operations over the long term. After that funds will be reinvested into programming, staff, and possibly re-granted to other non-profits.
#3 The previous movie theater did not make it here, how do you expect positive returns?
This is untrue. The Pinedale Entertainment Center was operating with very positive returns. It did not close down because of lack of business, the theater closed because Wolf Dodge purchased the entire building, and had no interest in operating the theater.
#4 Why don’t you operate concessions with volunteers?
Because we don’t want to and don’t need to! This community has a plethora of amazing volunteer opportunities. It doesn’t need more volunteer opportunities, it needs jobs. It needs living wage jobs for adults and it needs jobs for high school students and retirees. The operating plan outlines 3 living wage jobs for a Director, Marketing, and Night Manager, 3-6 jobs for concessions help, and contract positions for accounting and maintenance/cleaning. In addition, to be eligible for economic development grants, which we need to finance the renovation phase, we need prove job creation. Part of creating a sustainable and consistent facility with regular programming requires paid professional staff.
#5 We hoped for a feature film/1st run movie theater, why won’t you be showing 1st run movies?
We have selected to be a multi-entertainment facility for several reasons.
First, 1st run movies, which are movies recently released for their 1st public showing. They have very restrictive and expensive licensing requirements. For example when Star Wars comes out, you maybe required to show it for 4 continuous weeks, and pay 65% of ticket sales to licensing agency. It is well known that theaters don’t make money on ticket sales, they make money on concessions, which is why popcorn is so inflated. In Pinedale, with such a small population, most people are going to hit the popular new releases in first couple weeks, then it is going to die. We would be left keeping the theater open to show to the movie, with a minimal audience. This is why 1st run movie theaters have at least 2 auditoriums and often more so they can stagger films and always have people coming in to cash flow the business. With a 1 auditorium you can’t do this.
Second, Sublette County already has a beautiful 1st run movie theater in Marbleton, where residents have the opportunity to catch new releases.
Third, regular 1st run movie goers are a narrow audience, which becomes even smaller in a small, spread out population. We want to appeal to a much larger audience and expand our opportunities to work with many of the outstanding organizations, events, and facilities here to add value to things already going on. In addition, this gives us flexibility to develop very specific programming for different subsets of the demographics. Basically what this means is developing film series for special interests such as outdoor adventure, westerns, classics, horror, and kids. Instead of appealing to a broader audience all the time and directly competing with the existing theater, we want to attract tons of smaller audiences that are really interested in one topic.
Fourth, we are not saying, we will never show 1st run films. We will sometimes, when it makes sense for our facility size and demographics. As a general rule, 1st runs are not our bread and butter!
Do you have more burning questions??? Please visit the contact page and shoot us an email with your question. If we get the question repeatedly we will publish a response on this blog, if not we will respond individually.