STRAND spotlight

The Strand reached its Summer Membership Drive goal of reaching the level of 1,000 Members by August 31. Anna Jennings of Rockland was recognized as the 1,000th person to join the Strand’s Membership program.

Anna was presented with a gift bag and warm thanks from Membership Coordinator Jessica Ripley and Theater Manager Liz McLeod. Anna shared a few stories about her first visits to the Strand in 2007, including one about a several-hour wait in the rain with two friends to be one of the first in line to buy season tickets for the Strand’s first-ever Metropolitan Opera Live-In-HD season.

According to Anna, she joined as a member to help ensure that the Strand will continue as a valuable resource to the community for years to come. “Oh, and the sound is award winning!”

The theater, which has been designated a National Historic Landmark by the  National Trust for Historic Preservation, became a nonprofit in January 2014 and is now operated by Friends of the Strand Theatre. The Strand’s Membership program was launched in April 2014. Memberships, as well as grants, sponsorships and fundraising efforts, help pay the operating expenses for the wide range of cultural and educational programming the theater presents.

Strand Membership Coordinator Jessica Ripley made an appearance, along with her daughter and a friend as gaint popcorn boxes. Our thanks to Hurricane Isalnd Outward Bound School, who provided the boat, truck and driver for our salty crew!

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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