Theater gets funds to stay open

SPECIAL TO THE SENTINEL—The marquee announces a successful fundraising campaign for the Paradise Theatre in Paonia, including $43,000 from fundraising, some of it from overseas, through the Kickstarter website.

Amy DeLuca was confident the Paradise Theatre would meet its fundraising goal, but there was still relief and excitement when the words “Kickstarter Success!” were posted last week on the marquee outside the Paonia theater.

“It’s the spring, and we’re about to give birth to this new Paradise,” said DeLuca, theater manager. “We are really, really excited.”

After starting a 45-day campaign in early February through popular crowdfunding website Kickstarter, which was meant to raise $43,500 toward the necessary upgrades to keep the Paradise Theatre open, DeLuca was happy to report the goal was exceeded by several hundred dollars.

The Kickstarter deadline was March 20, and DeLuca said organizers are still counting cash and checks sent to the Paonia business independent of the online campaign.

Paradise received contributions from as far away as the Czech Republic and Peru.

“I would just say, and it sounds cliché, but it takes a village,” DeLuca said. “There have been so many people who have been instrumental in making this happen.”

She thanked the Paonia Chamber of Commerce, volunteers Elaine and Jim Brett, and everyone who contributed to Paradise Theatre’s fundraising efforts for renovations and the purchase of digital equipment as studios move away from releasing 35mm films.

The Kickstarter campaign and two grants, including a $20,000 grant from the State of Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, gave the Paradise Theatre more than $80,000 to buy a $60,000 digital projector and make upgrades to accommodate the new digital gear.

The goal is to have the projection room ready by May’s end, DeLuca said.

Any leftover fund will be used for future upgrades to the 80-year old building.

“It is a really old theater,” DeLuca said. “For all its funky uniqueness, it needs a lot of love. We felt this was an opportunity to begin that process.”

If the Kickstarter campaign had failed, it’s likely the Paradise Theatre would have closed, DeLuca said. The venue shows movies, hosts live shows and rents out its space to stay viable.

“It can’t exist without one of those three parts,” DeLuca said.

Instead, DeLuca has started working on summer programming and wants to host an April screening of a 35mm movie for a “bittersweet” farewell to that form of filmmaking.

The digital projector will be easier to use and will allow the venue to show more films, but “I feel like it’s a sad thing that 35 millimeter is disappearing,” DeLuca said. “There’s nothing like it.”


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