PITTSFIELD — The Pittsfield Community Theater Committee told the town council Tuesday evening about changes the organization has made to get through 2019 and its plans to sustain the theater as an independent organization in the future.

Committee secretary Jennifer Watson started off discussing the budget.

Theresa Butler looks at showtimes at the Pittsfield Community Theater on Main Street in Pittsfield on Jan. 3. The Pittsfield Community Theater Committee aims to make the theater an independent nonprofit, Morning Sentinel file photo by Michael G. Seamans

“The committee looked into (the) budget to see where cuts can be made,” Watson said. “The committee assisted Jaime (Jensen, the theater manager) in creating a new budget of $96,320 … expected revenue is $62,275, leaving a $34,045 gap which the town funds.”

These rates are reduced in comparison to the 2019 budget which was projected to cover $145,366 in costs but take in just $57,664 in expected revenue.

During a meeting in January, the council voted to reduce that budget by $45,000.

The committee reduced costs for the 2020 budget in several ways, according to Watson, with $22,000 saved from staff reorganization, $2,000 from concession changes and $5,000 from having the manager book the films.

Ticket prices were increased by $1 and the theater’s hours changed so now it’s closed two days a week to save additional money, Watson said.

The committee hopes its new venture into offering live events will sustain the theater in the future, Watson said.

“One major change is our program for live events,” Watson said. “We want to bring in more revenue but also offer the community a bigger variety of entertainment and things to do in town.”

By hosting live events, such as concerts and poetry readings, Watson said the committee hopes relationships will form between the theater and Pittsfield community.

“This is an effort to create a sustainable program of live events to establish working relationships with school and community,” Watson said. “It’s not just fundraising; it’s something that’s sustainable.”

After describing the theater’s operations throughout the last year, Watson then discussed the committee’s goal to have the theater become a 501(c)(3) organization, and separate from town completely.

Jennifer Watson, secretary of the Pittsfield Community Theater Committee, gives a presentation to town councilors on Tuesday. Deputy town clerk Michael Feole is at right. Morning Sentinel photo by Molly Shelly

A 501(c)(3) classification exempts a nonprofit organization from federal taxes.

To get to that point, the committee wants the town to put the theater into its 2020 budget to give them time to become a full nonprofit. Mayor Timothy Nichols said he would personally be in favor of including it in the 2020 budget.

Mayor Timothy Nichols, right, listens to Pittsfield Community Theater Committee presentation during Tuesday’s selectmen’s meeting. Deputy town clerk Michael Feole is at left. Morning Sentinel photo by Molly Shelly

“If you can come to us with the amount that you just presented, I will go on record and say I’d vote to have it another year,” Nichols said.

After the theater becomes a 501(c)(3), the committee wants the theater to be independent of the town and its ownership of the property and its operations.

“Our ultimate goal is to be a stand-alone nonprofit that can assume ownership of the building and operations,” Watson said.

Ann Mathews, the head of the theater committee, said the group envisions the theater expanding to become an “enrichment center.”

“We hope to purchase the building next door and have a new concession stand and accessible bathrooms put in,” Mathews said. “But we also want an art gallery and space to put on programs of all types, like after-school programs and senior citizen programs … We want to add space for live performances and plays. The sky is the limit.”

According to Mathews, the expanded theater could benefit the community in more ways than just to provide entertainment.

“You know what they say: A cultured community brings economic development,” Mathews said.

The Pittsfield Community Theater is located at 137 Main St. in Pittsfield.

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