Kingston theater gathers $190,000 through fundraiser

Donations continue to flow in for Kingston Firehouse Theater

Following its feature on CBS Sunday Morning, Kingston’s Firehouse Theater has raised just under $190,000 on its GoFundMe page (as of Feb. 12).

If you were watching the Oscars coverage all Sunday, you may have seen a spotlight shine for a quick minute on Kingston’s own Firehouse Theater and its owner Craig Smith.

The special highlighted the ups and the downs that the theater and Smith have faced since its opening in 2009. From the expensive switch from film to digital to Smith’s own physical health causing him to take a step back.

Smith set up the GoFundMe page on Jan. 29, just one week before the special aired with a goal of raising $250,000. Since the special aired (and as of 3 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12) the page has raised some $189,571 with nearly 5,000 individual donations ranging from $5 to as much as $2,000 and has seen over 3,000 shares.

On the page is a short video featuring Smith who explains why the page has been set up.

“We’ve been here about 10 years, almost closed twice, but you know we dedicated this to the art of film. We’re trying to keep it open. When we were forced to go digital, it cost a lot of money, I’ve got half a million in place, I’ve still got some debts, I need to retire and convert it to a nonprofit,” Smith said. “We may have to move it to keep the overhead low, but we do have a good community here that wants to see it happen, it’s growing and we believe that we can do this with your help.”

Smith spent over $400,000 remodeling the old firehouse in Kingston into the theater visitors see today and has been gradually paying back those costs over the years. The theater’s monthly attendance is roughly just over the population of Kingston itself, however, the majority of ticket sales go back to the movie production companies through fees. Smith said he would like to turn the theater into a nonprofit that supports the Kingston community before his health forces him to retire.

The funds raised through Smith’s GoFundMe campaign will be used to pay off the remaining costs of the theater projectors, pay off credit card debts accrued for theater expenses as well as a second mortgage on the property, upgrade theater lights and finally establish the nonprofit.

“Thank you so much, everybody! Lee Cowan and CBS Sunday Morning moved my wife to tears,” Smith said, in a thankful statement on the fundraising page. “How people can capture the essence of a dream. And so many people reminded of going to their small-town theater and wishing there was one near them again … Thank you so much. There is so much love for going to the movies still alive,” Smith said.

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