Wing Theatre upgrades movie projector
Cooperatives help fill the gap in financing
The movie theater in Wing shows the same movies as larger cities in the area, and it charges less money for admission. It recently upgraded to digital surround sound with the purchase of a new projector – a significant upgrade made possible, in part, by the fund-raising efforts of area residents, the Wing Booster Club, and a low-interest loan secured through the Rural Development Finance Corporation (RDFC). The corporation is owned by North Dakota’s electric and telecommunications cooperatives, in partnership with the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives (NDAREC).
Wing has had a theatre for as long as folks can remember. The original building was moved from Souris and operated by an area resident. In 1980 the building was torn down, and the current theatre was opened in Town Hall on Main Street. The Wing Booster Club was organized in the 1980s to manage the theatre, and dedicated volunteers sell tickets, make popcorn and clean after a showing.
Financed and operated by the Wing Booster Club, the theatre has never made money for the community, but it provides weekend entertainment for area families from Regan, Wing, McClusky, Tuttle, Sterling, Wilton, Steele and Bismarck/Mandan.
Late in 2012, the movie industry transitioned from 35mm film to a digital format. New movies would not be made using film, and old movies would also be converted – rendering the old movie projector useless. The Wing Booster Club researched the costs involved with upgrading to digital, and learned they would have to raise $50,000. The four-member board of directors had to decide whether to go into debt, or close the place down.
Arlene Olson, longtime Wing resident and board member for the Wing Booster Club and Capital Electric Cooperative, said her late husband grew up in the Wing area and graduated from the high school.
“When a small town has had something for all the years that you can remember, it’s hard to think about closing it,” she says. “I did not want to see the theater close.”
After discussion, the Booster Club held a fund-raising event in April 2014 to assess interest in the surrounding communities. Offering carnival activities, a silent auction and stock in the theater, the event was a success.
“We made $8,000 that day. That was the deciding factor to go ahead with looking for additional financing for the project,” Olson says.
The Booster Club applied for and received funding through the Lewis and Clark Regional Development
Council. Needing $25,000 more, Olson contacted Lori Capouch, rural development director for NDAREC. As a board member for Capital Electric, Olson knew that the state’s electric and telecommunications cooperatives owned and operated RDFC, and she hoped the project might qualify for a revolving loan fund. It did, and the Booster Club was able to purchase the digital projector last fall.
Olson, who has been a board member for Capital Electric for the past 23 years, says cooperatives provide so much more than safe, reliable and affordable electric service.
“Capital Electric is a Touchstone Energy® Cooperative, and one of the Touchstone Energy values is commitment to community. That is what cooperatives do: look out for the people in their service areas, and work together to enhance the quality of life,” she describes.
With the help of funding sources made available through state and local resources including the Rural Development Finance Corporation, people come together to create their communities. Capouch advises rural businesses and community leaders to consider applying to RDFC for a loan if they are having trouble securing affordable financing. “There are several ways to use this revolving loan fund to help several different kinds of rural businesses and community facility type projects,” she concludes.
Visitors are welcome at the Wing Theatre. To view the movie schedule, visit http://wingtheatre.weebly.com/.