STRAND spotlight

The Strand recently commenced a month-long celebration in recognition of the 10th Anniversary of its Re-Opening. Rockland community members joined the Strand staff to launch the festivities. Pictured are Greg Pinto, Tom Peaco, Nate Davis, Gordon Page, Frank Isganitis, Sarah Ruddy, Louise MacLellan-Ruf, Nick Ruf, Jana Herbener, Norrie Thompson, Terry Pinto, Kelsey Wotton, Liz McLeod, Eve Hupper, Dave Dailey, and Jessie Davis

The theater has been a cornerstone of downtown Rockland since it opened in 1923; as a tribute to the many memories that midcoast Maine residents have of the Strand, the theater staff invites  the community to contribute their memories and stories to a collaborative scrapbook. The memories, either of experiences at the Strand or of Rockland life in general, and from the near or distant past, will be compiled into a scrapbook that will be on public view at the Strand. Each person who offers us their story or memory will be entered into a weekly drawing for a Supporter’s Level ($100) Membership; four drawings will take place: on July 10, 17, 24, and 31. Submissions can be made in person at the theater; on Facebook; or by mail to the Strand Theatre, PO Box 433, Rockland, 04841.

The celebration month will be capped off with “Rockland Days” at the theater; all Rockland residents will be invited to attend all Strand movies for free on Friday, July 31 - Sunday, August 2.

Trekkies know: The transporter, or materializer, is a subspace device capable of almost instantaneously moving an object from one location to another. Transporters are able to dematerialize, transmit and reassemble an object. The act of transporting is often referred to as “beaming”.

Non-Muggles know: A popular method of travel in the wizarding world, Apparition, is the magical action of travelling by focusing on a desired location—a form of teleportation.

Whovians know: TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space) is a time machine/spacecraft, a product of the advanced technology of the Time Lords, an extraterrestrial civilization from the planet Gallifrey. A properly maintained and piloted TARDIS can transport its occupants to any point in time and place in the universe.

There’s a TARDIS on Main Street and it’s time we talked about it—and yes, it is much bigger on the inside than it looks from the outside.

Hundreds have been transported, in the last few months alone, through stories and music, to Newfoundland, Niger, Nashville, Nigeria, England, Austin, and Italy by simply stepping through the Strand’s front doors.  Crossing the state, the country, and the world—while the travel may not be intergalactic, it is certainly international.

From Western Africa with Beninoise singer-songwriter and activist, Angelique Kidjo, to the rollicking emerald hillsides of Ireland with Dervish, from the Texas borderlands with Alejandro Escovedo, to the cold French north with Le Vent du Nord, from La Perle des Antilles, Haiti with Belo, to the honky tonk western swing of Travis County with Asleep at the Wheel—the Strand stage has afforded us so many opportunities to travel in place through music.

Sitting in the audience this past September with my seven year old daughter, listening to the Tuareg guitar virtuoso, Bombino, dressed in his colorful boubou and singing in his native Tamashek, I was struck by how fortunate we were to be having such an incredible cultural and artistic experience just steps from our own front door. It’s amazing to think that a world renowned musician travelled thousands of miles of physical, political, and cultural terrain, from the desert of Niger to our little city on the coast of Maine, and here we were, having walked two blocks from our house to the Strand, broadening our global perspective and awareness in a way that typically only happens through border crossing travel and immersion.

When the stage is dark, the Strand screen offers additional passage in time and place. Week to week the destinations change, but the overall experience of being transported, through words and pictures, remains the same. The opportunity to deepen our understanding and experience a world outside our own, to be challenged, comforted, educated or entertained, exists, right here on Main Street, whenever the Strand’s doors are open.

From the sidewalks of Rockland, Maine through the Strand’s doors, you too can travel in place.

So, where to next?

The Strand Theatre’s new membership program begins on April 17th and will provide an opportunity for community members to support the theater while enjoying some perks.

The ninety-year old Strand, a landmark of the downtown area, recently became a non-profit organization when the Simmons family donated it to the Friends of the Strand Theatre (FOST). As a non-profit, tax-exempt entity, the Strand can now accept tax-deductible gifts and pursue grants from a variety of sources to underwrite its programming.

“We are confident that our new membership program will offer something for everyone in the community,” said Jo Dondis, Chair of the FOST Board. “There will be various membership levels and although no one has to be a Strand member to attend the theater we’re hoping that the community will view the Strand as its own theater and support it as an important and necessary cultural resource.”

Community membership support will make it possible for FOST to maintain the historic theater’s facilities along with its state-of-the art projection and sound systems. Funds from membership will also underwrite the Strand’s unique independent film program and its diverse, year-round venue of live music, performing arts and special events.

Membership dues will be tax deductible to the extent of the lawand ticket prices will not change. “All over the country, successful and well-established independent theaters offset their operating costs by offering membership programs,” said Strand Theatre Executive Director Sarah Ruddy. “Folks truly get to become a part of the theaters they love, while also allowing us to keep bringing audiences the programs they love without raising our prices. We offer a lot of different membership levels; for as little as $50 you can get some great perks like free tickets and know that you are contributing to helping the Strand continue to bring great movie, concerts, and events to the whole community.”

Among independent theaters around the country offering membership programs dues represent about 9% of total income.

The Strand recently received the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Award for Innovation in Business, recognizing it as an organization that has demonstrated a proactive and innovative approach toward finding solutions to business challenges and has embraced change as an opportunity for growth.

To find out more about becoming a member, please contact our membership coordinator at [email protected]or call 207-594-0070 (extension 5).

To learn more about how you can support The Strand or to make a tax-deductible donation, please contact Strand Executive Director Sarah Ruddy at [email protected]or call (207) 701-5053.

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: 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.

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