This nondescript building is a space that endears by dint of its history rather than any theatrical architectural flourish. Operated by the Cacchio family since 1949, the building has been up for sale recently, and the Rosendale Theatre Collective has been formed to buy the theater, restore it and run a wide variety of entertainment and other programs for Rosendale and Ulster County residents. In April, the group won $50,000 from the Pepsi Refresh Project, putting them over the top in their efforts to come up with the down payment.
More amazing than the grant, according to collective member and chair F-Stop Fitzgerald™, is the $110,000 raised by local residents and businesses, which for the most part came in amounts of $10, $25, $50, $100. This reflects the community nature of the effort, from the cooperation of the owners, who are still running the theater but allowing the cooperative to schedule events, to the two local banks, Rondout Savings and Ulster Savings, that are sharing the mortgage. The group expects to close by this month.
A Kids Summer Fan Club is scheduled for July and August, says Fitzgerald. “The idea came from lifelong resident Kevin Cahill, who remembers the fan club when he was growing up. For a nickel, members would get admittance to a movie, a cartoon, maybe even a live performance from a clown.” Today’s club members get a t-shirt, a membership card, and entry to six classic kids movies, each featuring a live component as well.
The theater will offer support to independent and mainstream filmmakers, emerging and established artists, students and educators, and community arts organizations, all in an inclusive, diverse, vibrant, and welcoming atmosphere. In addition to continuing the Cacchio family tradition of presenting both independent and mainstream films, the group plans to expand its relationship with the Woodstock Film Festival. In the realm of theater, the initial plan will be to rent the facility to local theatrical producers. In the future, it will evolve toward a local repertory production group.
Other uses will be music, dance, and children’s production. It is also envisioned as a venue for public speaking events that address the critical issues of our times.
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