What’s Happening at the Strand?
The Simmons Family has given the Strand Theatre to Friends of the Strand Theatre, a Maine non-profit corporation. Friends was formed in August 2013 with the express purpose of eventually owning and operating the Strand once the IRS granted the theater tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status. Ten years ago, Ellen and Matt Simmons purchased and extensively renovated the Strand, transforming the 1923 building into a state-of-the-art theater and cultural center. Since that renovation the Simmons family has provided generous financial support to the Strand’s operations. Two years ago the family asked a small committee to explore future options for the theater in order to put it on a more sustainable path. That committee evolved into a board tasked with oversight of theater management and strategic direction. The board and the Simmons family eventually agreed that the best option for both the Strand to continue as a viable business and for the community at large to reap the economic and cultural benefits this historic institution offers was for the theater to become a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. And now, because of the foresight and generosity of the Simmons family this has happened.
Why did the Strand become a non-profit?
As a non-profit, tax-exempt entity, the Strand can accept tax-deductible gifts and pursue grants from a variety of sources to underwrite the high quality programming its audiences have come to expect. The Simmons family and the Friends of the Strand Theatre Board believe that non-profit status will secure the future of the Strand as an independent theater for the community. Nationally, successful independent theaters tend overwhelmingly to be owned and operated as non-profit businesses.
Will we still have the same kind of programming?
Yes. The Strand will continue to offer the same high caliber cultural and educational programming it always has. Going forward, we hope to attract an even wider audience with the best of film, theater, music, educational and community events available.
What will change and when?
Many of the changes will be behind the scenes and have already taken place. There is a new board in place which has been overseeing theater operations and exploring a non-profit path for the theater since December of 2012. Executive director Sarah Ruddy has been focusing on continuing to grow the Strand’s innovative programming line-up for almost a year. It’s important to us to keep offering what our audiences love and to keep doing what we do well. At the “front of house,” very little will change. For example, the recent addition of a digital cinema projection system means that we will be able to continue screening all the best new films. But because we are keeping our 35 mm projectors we can also show traditional films prints the tried and true way. And not to worry, Liz will continue to preside over the theater as she always has.
How important will community support be?
Essential. The Strand is counting on the community to support operations by continuing to attend the theater and buy tickets. Other support activities will include an annual fundraising drive, volunteer opportunities and most exciting, a membership program to be launched in April. Stay tuned for details. We look forward to having you all in the family and can’t wait to share this new program with you.
How can I help now?
For more information on how to support us, please visit: http://www.rocklandstrand.com/donate. Donations can also be sent to the theater at 345 Main Street, Rockland, Maine 04841. Or stop by and pick up a donation envelope in the lobby or from one of our staff. Any contribution will be greatly appreciated and will ensure the continued operation of the Strand. All donors making gifts of $100 and above between February 7th and April 2nd, 2014, will be recognized as Founding Members and granted membership benefits at the level corresponding to the donation.
Who can I talk to if I want more information about the Strand?
Contact: Sarah Ruddy, Executive Director at [email protected] or at (207) 701-5053.