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Cinema Launches, Sponsorship, Membership Drive

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Countryfest Community Cinema is marking 10 years in business with a campaign to secure its future.

The board of the not-for-profit cinema has developed a corporate sponsorship and public membership campaign designed to get some much needed operating capital in the bank. “I guess the ultimate goal for us is to survive,” board chair Ron Hedley said. “Everyone tells us they’d like to help so we just tried to accommodate as much as we could in this 10th anniversary sponsorship drive.”

The cinema has been effectively closed since the beginning of the pandemic, which has decimated the business’s cash flow, Hedley said.

On the sponsorship side of the program, there are four levels in which businesses and individuals can get involved. Platinum level is for sponsors providing a gift of $5,000 or more. For that gift, donors receive five one-year memberships, a star on the wall of the cinema, their photo in the Dauphin Herald and Facebook recognition. Gold level sponsors providing between $2,500 and $5,000 receive two one-year memberships and Facebook recognition, while Silver level gifts ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 receive one one-year membership and Facebook recognition. Finally, Bronze level includes gifts up to $1,000 in exchange for a $50 gift card and Facebook recognition.

“We’ve had a pretty good response. As much as we can, the directors have passed out the packages and this week we are going to try to close them,” Hedley said, adding the board has also begun working on a renewal of 10-year naming rights. “So we have three of the four theaters have said yes to that.”

The one-year memberships being offered include a Family membership for $450, which includes two adult and two student movie passes every month; a Couples membership for $275, which includes two movie passes every month; and an Individual membership for $150, which includes one movie pass every month.

“Our idea with the memberships is that people pay $15 for Netflix and, you know, they get what they get,” Hedley said. “This way we’re giving people something in exchange for giving us some cash flow, And we really need people to step up and get involved as much as they can.” The cinema board will host two drive-up events for people to purchase their memberships and grab a bag of popcorn, May 12 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., and May 14 from noon to 6 p.m. The plan is to utilize the Dauphin Recreation Services parking lot behind the cinema.

“We will probably do another date later,” cinema manager Ron Suchoplas. “But we will cut our teeth on this and see how it goes.”

The final piece of the drive is some special sponsorship opportunities for businesses. Popcorn Bag Sponsorship, which would see the sponsor’s logo on 10,000 bags, is available for $2,500. Also a Projection Bulb Sponsorship, which would see on-screen mention of the sponsor for approximately one year, can be had for $1,000. There is also an opportunity to sponsor a seat for $300, which involves a name plate on the back of a theatre seat, and finally, a Movie Club Foreign Film Sponsorship for $300, which involves radio, newspaper and social media recognition and optional lobby advertising on the day of the event.

While the board has not put a dollar value on their goals for the drive, Hedley would like to see the program raise somewhere between $100,000 and $200,000.

“We’d like to get as much as we can put into the account for general operating and then the memberships, if they’re renewed annually, will provide us cash flow to kind of operate,” Hedley said. “Somewhere between $100,000 and $200,000 though, well, that would sure be nice. We need to just get back to where we were, in good place, and then all this hit.”

Ultimately the theatre’s long-term survival depends on getting back to business after public health orders are lifted and welcoming patrons back into the seats. It is something that should have happened already, Hedley believes. “We’ve really lobbied hard with the doctors and the politicians, but there’s been no reply,” he said. “The sad part is, it’s so safe. We have actually put together a video to show people just how safe it is to come to the theater.”