Fairfield Community Theatre

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Community Film Institute (2009–2011) (formerly known as the Fairfield Community Theatre Foundation (2001–2009) in Fairfield, Connecticut, was a nonprofit organization that operated a 1920 movie theater in downtown Fairfield, presenting mostly independent and second-run films. Ticket and snack prices were kept low, partly because the theater was staffed almost entirely by volunteer teenagers and run partly on donations. The foundation ran several film-related programs for seniors, mothers and youth. It also provided direct financial and promotional support to other local nonprofit organizations.

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

Volunteers and finances[edit]

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 teens to earn community service hours in order to apply for college.

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."[1]

Programs[edit]

The foundation runs a number of programs using the theater:[2]

  • 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 and 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[edit]

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 would raise 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 1970s.

Starting in the late 1990s, the Loew's chain attempted to run it as an art house, but failed and had to close it down in the spring of 2001.[3]

Leo Redgate, a real estate investor in town who remembered seeing "Jaws" at the moviehouse as a kid, decided it would be good for the community to revive the place. 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.[3]

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.[4]

Among the goals of the foundation were 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. However, Redgate failed to deliver on his promises when the foundation faced financial struggles owing more than eighty thousand dollars on the lease and over fifteen thousand to film distributors and services provided to the foundation.

The Fairfield Citizen reported that Redgate's decision in stepping away from the foundation had nothing to do with the financial struggles it was facing and two lawsuits that were filed by Buena Vista Pictures and Sony Pictures [4]. Redgate left a lot in question when he claimed that "there is no issue with the non-profit status" when in fact the Internal Revenue Service revoked the non-profit status in 2010.[5]

The theatre's final public showing was held on September 8, 2011. [6]

The Fairfield Citizen reported that new leasing efforts were underway to find someone who would be willing to take over the Fairfield landmark. [7]

Partners[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1] "Our Work" web page of the Fairfield Community Foundation Web site, accessed July 22, 2006.
  2. ^ [2] "Programs" Web page of the Fairfield Community Theatre Foundation Web site, accessed on July 22, 2006.
  3. ^ a b [3] 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).
  4. ^ Fairfield Citizen-News Staff, "Don't Let The Lights Dim On Community Theatre" Fairfield Citizen-News, April 30, 2008, accessed July 9th, 2008

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°08′29″N 73°15′24″W / 41.1415°N 73.2567°W / 41.1415; -73.2567 (Fairfield Community Theatre)