Employees of the former Majestic Theatre in the Town of Crested Butte are hoping to galvanize a grassroots movement to save their beloved movie venue.
“We want to keep it funky and keep it local, we love the vibes and we just love our job,” said Carrie Wallace who worked at the Majestic for four years before the pandemic closed the business this fall.
In the effort to re-open, Wallace joins Conrad Kaul and Whitney Favor, both of whom worked at the Majestic Theatre in recent years.
Eager to get a game plan in gear, the group who affectionately refer to themselves as the “Children of the Popcorn” began looking into other local theaters across the state. They quickly discovered that surviving small theaters share a common thread.
“Any small theater that’s surviving is doing so as a nonprofit,” said Wallace.
So the gang did just that. They incorporated a nonprofit called Friends of the Majestic and started a fundraising campaign.
“I want five dollars from everyone in town and everyone who’s ever come to the movie theater,” said Wallace.
The idea is to raise enough funds to purchase the building, priced at a whopping $3.3 million, and to give the building to the Town of Crested Butte.
Gifting the theater to the town would accomplish two things, said Wallace. First, it would eliminate one of the largest costs for the theater: rents that are high and rising. And it would keep the theater in the community for years to come.
“Our biggest goal is to preserve this theater for future generations; Wallace said. “We want to preserve the access to see movies and get out of our little bubble here.”
But beyond satisfying customers with a schedule of blockbuster films, the hope is to transform the Majestic into a community hub, said Wallace.
“I already think of this as a community center, but I want to attract everyone in the valley,” she said.
Wallace pointed to other theaters that have followed a similar path. The Paradise Theater in Paonia and the ISIS Theater in Aspen transitioned to being nonprofit enterprises.
The nonprofit designation could open the door for an array of possibilities such as hosting private events, birthday parties or even Town Council meetings, said Wallace.
Especially for youth in the Gunnison Valley, the theater has been a mainstay as a safe, fun activity in the winter months. The Majestic could host film clubs for student groups or other film fanatics.
Those changes would in turn keep more money in the local economy and reduce the revenue siphoned off by Hollywood.
“We’re all going to want a movie theater when COVID is over,” said Wallace.
(Kate Gienapp can be contacted at 970.641.1414 or email@example.com.)
HOW TO HELP
Visit the Friends of the Majestic Fund on GoFundMe. conn to donate to the cause.