Sunrise Lands Grant to Assist Digital Upgrade
Growing up in Southern Pines, Diana (Pearson) Self remembers walking to the Sunrise Theater from her home on Connecticut Avenue on Sunday afternoons to take in a first-run movie for 25 cents.
"It was the popular hangout back in the 1950s," Self said. "I love all those classic movies."
Self and her husband, Sam, who live in Dallas but also own a home in Pinehurst, are hoping that a $25,000 grant from the Eugene McDermott Foundation will go a long way toward helping the Sunrise Theater raise the estimated $70,000 to $85,000 needed to convert its production system from film to digital. The grant is named in honor of Diana Self.
"It is a great advantage to the town for the Sunrise to be able to play current movies," said Diana Self. "Not many towns can say they have an asset like that."
The grant was awarded last week, said Sam Self, a McDermott Foundation board member. Sam is an avid reader of the print edition of The Pilot, and found out about the need by reading Steve Bouser's column "Sunrise Theater Prepares for a Technological Leap," in the Aug. 29 edition.
Self reached out to Bouser, who is on the Sunrise Preser-vation Group Board, to offer some help.
"I told him I happen to be on several foundations, and this is maybe something one of my foundations may be able to help with," Self said.
The Sunrise group applied to the Eugene McDermott Foundation Board for $25,000 and was notified it received the award last week.
In its application letter, Loretta Aldridge, president of the Sunrise Preservation Group, writes that "a new wave of technological change is washing over the movie theater world and is lapping at the door of the Sunrise. As early as 2014, according to industry experts, the exchange of film in cans between commercial distributors and theaters will be a thing of the past."
On Tuesday, Aldridge said they have been told the SPG should get the grant within two weeks.
"This definitely showcases the power of the press," Aldridge said.
SPG, the nonprofit that owns and operates the building, was formed in 1998 to keep the theater alive. The Arts Council of Moore County (ACMC) donated the building and transferred the theater's operation to SPG that year.
ACMC rents the performance space to host its classical concert series, its comedy series and occasionally a youth summer theater camp.
Self said he is hopeful that the grant will energize the capital campaign and get the necessary funds raised to complete the project.
"I actually hope it will be used as a challenge grant," Self said. "I hope it will get people to step up and match it, or contribute in some way so that we can make this digital conversion."
The McDermott Founda-tion was established in 1955 by industrialist Eugene McDermott, co-founder of Geophysical Services Incor-porated (now Texas Instruments). The McDermott Foundation gives grants in support of educational, cultural, social-service, and other civic and community ventures.
Getting the Digital Cinema technology is imperative for the continued success of the Sunrise, Aldridge said.
"If we don't get it, it will change the dynamic totally," she said. "We will be reduced to being a second-run, old film movie theater."
Another way the board is raising funds for the technological upgrade is through an optional $1 donation to the current ticket price of $7.
Aldridge said she is hopeful the grant will encourage people in the community to contribute without feeling like they are adversely impacting themselves financially.
"I hope everybody will step up like they did for the roof," she said.
The citizens have often responded when the need has arisen for the Sunrise.
In 2011, the clarion call was sounded by Joyce Reehling, of Pinehurst, who wrote a guest column in The Pilot calling for establishment of the Committee That Never Meets.
Essentially, Reehling suggested "a committee of about 300 of us who simply ante up $100 apiece" to save the Sunrise and not have to meet or "join anything."
The response was overwhelming, and, earlier this year, Aldridge credited Reehling, who retired here in 2008 from New York after a 33-year career in theater, TV and commercials, for "getting the ball rolling." The money raised paid for repairs to the roof, which were done earlier this year.
One of the donations received came from the Selfs.
"We spent may happy years at the Sunrise when we were high school students," Sam Self said. "It was the place to go, and we still love it there."
Contact Tom Embrey at (910) 693-2484 or email@example.com.
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