So much has been accomplished by the Rosendale Theatre Collective (RTC) in the past three years, since the community-based group bought out the beloved old tin-ceilinged moviehouse on Main Street, that it’s hard to fathom that it wasn’t all that long ago when rumors were flying that the Rosendale Theatre was in danger of going out of business. In an age when cozy single-screen neighborhood cinemas seem to be on the brink of extinction, the thought of Rosendale’s scrappy survivor being divided up into a glitzy multiplex or turned into condos horrified many local fans of the arts. But because enough of those concerned citizens put their heads, hands and pocketbooks together to do something about it, the story seems to be on its way to a happier ending.
The struggle to keep the Rosendale Theatre alive isn’t over yet, though. “Without volunteers we’re nothing,” says Ann Citron, who was named RTC’s managing director in September 2012. “We want more people to be involved with the Theatre itself.” Engaging even more of the local community is the goal of an event planned for next Saturday, March 23, kicking off the multi-month celebration of the third anniversary of the purchase and operation of the Rosendale Theatre by the Collective.
The group originally began meeting in January of 2010, and by August of that year had raised enough funds to take over the Cacchio family’s mortgage on the building. Now the group is in the midst of a capital campaign to fund its ongoing renovation of the Theatre, and the Community Open House planned for the 23rd is intended to inform anyone and everyone who’s interested what the plans are for making the space even more attractive, comfortable, welcoming and useful.
If you haven’t visited the historic cinema recently, you’re in for a surprise. Not only was the outstanding $150,000 balance of the purchase price paid off last year, but, thanks largely to a $175,000 capital improvement grant obtained from New York State through Assembly member Kevin Cahill’s office, a great deal of renovation and modernization work has already been accomplished. That famous tin ceiling, whose old flaking paint sometimes used to fall in moviegoers’ laps, has been repainted “a beautiful flat black,” as Citron puts it. A digital projection system has been added to the Theatre’s vintage 35-millimeter projectors, along with Dolby surround sound.
The Theatre now has the capacity for live Internet conferencing through Skype, which makes it much easier to host celebrity question-and-answer sessions or remote panel discussions following a film. And hearing-assist devices with wireless headphones for the hearing-impaired will soon be purchased. “We just upgraded the electrical system,” says Citron. “We’re so happy, because we feel safer, and now we can provide more power for music and lighting.”