Historic Preservation Month Feature: Cliff Theater in Wray

20 May

CLIFF THEATER

City: Wray, CO

Population: 2,300

Historic Structure: Yes, Colorado State Historic Registrar

Year Built: 1950

Public Non Profit: Cliff Cultural Community Center Inc.

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The Cliff Theater was originally built in 1950 in a small town of 2,300 people in Northeast Colorado. For the last 60 years, this theater has stood as a landmark for the community in Wray, but in 2007 the owner realized that the theater was in jeopardy. The solution was to create a community center with 501c3 designation. The original board received a $25,000 financial commitment from a local trust for three years to get the Cliff Cultural Community Center Inc. up and running. They changed the business model and become a public non-profit, only to be jeopardized again five years later. In the fall of 2012 they learned that the movie industry would be going digital and they would have to do the same to survive.

COMMUNITY CENTER & DONATIONS

In total it took about 14 months to gather enough money to fund a new digital projector. Three major donors, El Pomar, Gates Family and Kitzmiller Bales and Powell Trusts, contributed $85,000, and the Cliff Theater was able to raise another $45,000 through about two-dozen community fundraising events. These efforts were all small fundraisers like bake sales, donation buckets, silent auctions and letters.

Since May 2012 the theater has been run strictly by board members and volunteers. The community really rallied around the Cliff Theater because they understood that without the theater there were few options for family and youth to be entertained, without traveling more than 40 miles.

COMMUNITY IMPACT

The Cliff Theater is not just a movie theater, but also a community center for Wray and Yuma. The Theater hosts events ranging from dance classes, youth group meetings, to birthday parties, and music shows.

Cliff Theater’s next steps are to further diversity the theater’s current programs by exploring licensing options for showing classic movies, developing the center as a live music venue, reinstating a children’s movie summer program, and adding programming from a digital broadcast network provider to show events like concerts and sports events.

For more information visit: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cliff-Theater/155229292458

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