Fairfield Community Theatre


Fairfield Community Theatre

The Fairfield Community Theatre Foundation in Fairfield, Connecticut, is a nonprofit organization that operates a 1920 landmark movie theater in downtown Fairfield, presenting mostly independent and second-run films. Ticket and snack prices are kept low, partly because the theater is staffed almost entirely by volunteer teenagers and run partly on donations. The foundation runs several film-related programs for seniors, mothers and youth. It also provides direct financial and promotional support to other local nonprofit organizations.

The theater is located on Fairfield's main street, 1424 Post Road.

It is staffed mainly by students from Fairfield's two high schools.

Volunteers and finances

Except for the general manager of the premises, the staff is mostly under the age of eighteen, and the theater is a popular place for youngsters to earn community service hours in order to apply for college.

Using volunteers instead of a paid staff, along with donations, allows the foundation to present films for four dollars per ticket and sell popcorn for $2 a bag (as of July 2006).

According to the theater's Web site, it costs more than $20,000 a year to maintain the building, including more than $7,500 a year in maintenance costs for the 75-year-old marquee sign and $10,000-plus for the new DVD projection system's 35mm film projection equipment (replacement cost for one film projector would be $75,000). The new projection system "has enhanced the theater's capabilities" by "increasing the opportunities for special programs and events at the theater." [ [http://www.communitytheaterfoundation.org/ourwork.asp] "Our Work" web page of the Fairfield Community Foundation Web site, accessed July 22, 2006.]

Programs

The foundation runs a number of programs using the theater: [ [http://www.communitytheaterfoundation.org/specialprograms.asp] "Programs" Web page of the Fairfield Community Theatre Foundation Web site, accessed on July 22, 2006.]
*The Casablanca Club program provides free showings of classic films during the afternoon to seniors and their guests.
*The Cinemoms program provides free movies to mothers who can bring their babies (under 2 years old). The sound is turned down a bit and the lights are left on. Changing stations are available.
*The theater's Film Movement Series shows two film series each year of quality independent films that have had very limited or no distribution.
*Cinefest Fairfield is an annual film festival featuring short films of Fairfield University students, alumni and faculty which showcases the Department of Visual and Performing Arts' innovative New Media: Film, Television and Radio Program.
*The Community Theatre Foundation Film School provides young people with an education in filmmaking in partnership with the Fairfield University Media Center.
*The Student Film Festival annually presents films made by high school students, with awards to the best works in various categories.

History

The theater first began operation in 1920 as a local moviehouse. It added a second screen room in 1979. There are many stories regarding the theater's changing construction. For instance, behind one of the balconies, there used to be an office. It was accompanied with a lounge, but in 1950, the owner decided to make the office bigger, compromising the lounge. A lift, still operational, would lift an organ out of the basement and onto the stage. The theater was also home to stage performances in the past but was converted into a movie theater in the 1970's.

Starting in the late 1990s, the Loew's chain tried to run it as an art house, but failed and had to close it down in the spring of 2001. [http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/22/nyregion/nyregionspecial2/23ctcol.html?_r=1&oref=slogin&pagewanted=print] Berger, Joseph, "What We Have Here Is Success," article in (Sunday) Connecticut section (Section 14, page 1) of The New York Times, July 23, 2006, accessed July 22, 2006(You can access many stories in the newspaper's Sunday edition a day beforehand).]

Leo Redgate, a real estate investor in his 30s who grew up in town and remembers seeing "Jaws" at the moviehouse as a kid, decided it would be good for the community to revive the place, so he created the theater foundation, invested his own money to fix up the building, and rounded up volunteers, including high school students. By the end of 2001, the theater was open again.

But now the foundation faces another challenge. Repairs are desperately needed to the property, which Redgate would like to buy from the Pollack family. He has made a couple of multimillion-dollar offers, but Norman Pollack told the Fairfield Citizen-News that the seven members of the family who make up the limited liability company are not inclined to sell at this time. Redgate is not asking for anything unreasonable in wanting to buy the property. The lease even states that he can match any offer the Pollacks receive - whether now or 10 years from now - for as long as he still rents the place. [http://www.fairfieldcitizen-news.com/opinion/ci_9105398 Fairfield Citizen-News Staff, "Don't Let The Lights Dim On Community Theatre" Fairfield Citizen-News, April 30, 2008, accessed July 9th, 2008] ]

Among the goals of the foundation are to restore and operate the theater and provide affordable entertainment, unite young people in the spirit of volunteerism, and act as a catalyst for community involvement, inspiration and support.

Partners

*Newman's Own and its founder, Paul Newman
*Westport Country Playhouse
*Film Movement
*Fairfield University Media Center

References

External links

* [http://www.cinematour.com/tour.php?db=us&id=3927 Cinema Tour Photo Profile]
* [http://www.communitytheaterfoundation.org Fairfield Community Theater Foundation Website]
* [http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/22/nyregion/nyregionspecial2/23ctcol.html?r=1&oref=slogin&pagewanted=print New York Times article on the theater, July 23, 2006]
* [http://www.fairfieldcitizen-news.com/opinion/ci_9105398 Fairfield Citizen-News Staff, "Don't Let The Lights Dim On Community Theatre" Fairfield Citizen-News, April 30, 2008, accessed July 9th, 2008]


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