Effort begins for Regent’s digital screen
By Tim D. Keith
Three years after it was closed in 1997, the Regent Theatre was saved by the people of Allegan. The city purchased the struggling theater in 2000 and began to subsidize its operations.
The city stepped in again in 2006, committing $50,000 from its sinking fund to the renovation project, which, among other efforts, restored the building’s marquee.
Theatre management hopes the people of Allegan are willing to step up again, this time with a fundraiser to purchase a digital movie projector.
The switch to a digital projector, from the theater’s current 35 mm projector, has been spurred by the movie industry’s move from film to digital production, according to downtown development authority director and theater manager Vicki Knuckles.
“If we don’t put in digital equipment, then we will have to show only old films,” Knuckles told the Allegan City Council earlier this year.
Even though the work is necessary, she believes it will prove worthwhile for other reasons, describing the quality at the theatre after the project is finished as a “huge improvement.”
The upgrade is projected to cost $75,000. The DDA has committed to matching the first $25,000.
Knuckles is optimistic the money can be raised.
“I believe we’re going to get huge community support,” she said. “There is such a sense of ownership for the community; I think they’ll rise to this.”
Among the various efforts to raise funds are a movie ticket roundup, which began in June and allows customers to pay an extra dollar for a ticket; a change drive at the theater; and an auction later this year.
The auction is scheduled for the fall, though no date has been set. It will include signed items from celebrities and a Regent Theatre quilt.
The auction will be a can’t-miss event, she said.
“We’ll make a big to-do with it,” Knuckles said.
The theatre will also open for December’s art hop and feature Regent-inspired art.
Knuckles said the first week of fundraising produced $3,000.
The theatre kicked off fundraising efforts this month with the release of the first of several planned promotional videos.
The video features Allegan residents talking about their experiences at the Regent. In it, Mayor Tom Clark commends the community nature of the theatre.
“I’m looking around, I’m seeing my friends, my neighbors; we’re just having a fantastic time,” he said. “You go into a large theatre, chances are you won’t run into anybody you know. Here, you’re going to run into friends and neighbors.”
Bobby Tremaine, an Allegan native who recently returned to the city after spending time in California, recalled coming to the Regent in the 1960s with his mother; when $5 could pay for movies and popcorn for three.
“Looking around and seeing the old candy machine sitting there, was one of those things that helped me say, ‘Yep, I’m back home,’” he said.
Knuckles said the Regent is looking for more community members to participate in future videos for the fundraising efforts.
Donations to the effort are accepted at the Regent Theatre, 211 Trowbridge St. Knuckles is also working to set up online donations.
To view the promotional video, visit the theatre’s Facebook page.
To volunteer, learn more about the Regent Theatre or donate, contact Knuckles at (269) 217-8604 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Tim D. Keith at email@example.com or (269) 673-5534.