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September 23, 2013

Nonprofit cinema surpasses goal to upgrade equipment

GLOUCESTER — Ever since they donated 200 DVDs to Cape Ann Community Cinema’s lending library, Martin and Michele Del Vecchio have stood behind the cinema’s cause.

So supporting the independent theater this summer when it launched its first major online fundraiser seemed like a no-brainer.

Apparently, the Del Vecchios weren’t the only ones who thought so.

“We received an average of $130 per donor,” said the cinema’s founder and owner, Robert Newton, 44. “I’m still reeling. I just never dreamed it would be this successful.”

The fund-raiser, which began May 23 and ended July 22, is helping pay for upgrades for the screening equipment, upgrades that are necessary, according to CinemaSalem’s Paul Van Ness, 62, and part of a national trend for independent theaters.

“Most major film distributors are now only distributing their movies in a digital format,” says Van Ness, who this past year conducted a similar campaign to upgrade CinemaSalem’s projectors. “Independent theaters that are not equipped to screen to the industry’s standard must upgrade or they lose the capacity to play the movies that most people want to see.”

But these upgrades aren’t cheap. In the case of Cape Ann Community Cinema, the majority of the fundraiser’s $30,000 goal went directly to the new equipment. The cinema raised $54,000, however, and the money continued to flow in by mail.

More than $24,000 over its goal, none of the money will be wasted, Newton said. The cinema is installing a new sound system, a tiered platform to increase seating capacity, and is covering the budget of the cinema’s first feature film, “Over Cape Ann,” a new version of a television movie that has been playing since 1988.

Donors believe these expenditures are valuable to the community.

“The big reason we donated to the fundraiser,” says Martin Del Vecchio, 47, “is because we knew that (the new projector) would let the cinema play new movies that are more inclusive of the community, especially the summer crowd.”

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