Editorial: Fundraiser for theater a success

Just about everyone who lives in the Monadnock region will tell you that it’s the area’s rural culture that attracted them here. We love its scenic vistas, calm traffic and safe communities in which to raise our families and recreate. Century-old meetinghouses and churches, some even older, as well as 19th century farmhouses and other staples of New England make our towns special places to live. Our historic theaters — the Peterborough Players, Wilton Town Hall Theatre, Peterborough Community Theatre and the soon-to-be renovated Park Theatre — have something to do with it, too.

Tuesday evening there were many watching the Kickstarter website — featuring the Peterborough Community Theatre’s “Go Digital or Go Dark” campaign to raise money for a digital projection system — as the donation totals finally reached the $45,000 mark. The 99-year-old landmark will live on, we’re told, now that its owners have the money to convert from 35-millimeter film. There are many donors to thank.

A week ago, the campaign was about a third of its way to its target with just two weeks left in the campaign. Kickstarter is an online fundraising tool that allows people to start their own webpage promoting their cause and a monetary goal needed to fund the project. People can pledge funds, but are only charged if the monetary goal is reached. Kickstarter keeps 5 percent of the funds from successful campaigns.

We saw Kickstarter used to great success when the Sharon Arts Center was raising money to bring back nationally renowned cardboard artist James Grashow last summer, and it was gratifying to see it help save Peterborough’s historic movie theater.

It’s ironic that it’s online digital technology that’s helping our downtown theater in rural New Hampshire survive, and that its owners turned to social media to reach out to the community. In an age when educators and parents worry that computers may be keeping us from everyday human-to-human interactions, it’s nice to see an example of technology bringing us together. Hopefully, every time we step into the theater, we’ll remember that there were people in our community who cared enough to save it.

Not only does saving the Peterborough Community Theatre preserve the opportunity to screen films in town, it’s also keeping our downtown vibrant. And that is the mission behind the Park Theatre project in downtown Jaffrey. The 1920s theater sat empty for 30 years after closing in 1976, and the plan to return it to its former glory has been years in the making. Since the Park Theatre Trustees purchased the Main Street building in 2005, they’ve been fundraising and preparing construction plans. The organization is now poised to begin construction in June, pending necessary Planning Board approvals. Earlier this month, we learned $450,000 has been raised for the project so far, but those efforts are not over; there’s still $1.5 million more to raise. Perhaps Kickstarter can help the Park Theatre reach part of that goal.

The Peterborough theater’s Kickstarter campaign underscores the importance of supporting local businesses and organizations. Let’s not forget it.

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