A crowdfunded theater

Jam of the Week: “Tea Leaf Dancers” by Flying Lotus

The internet is interesting in many ways. Not just the fact that a communications network initially developed to share research and military information is now largely used to share cut cat videos, but that too.

One exciting thing that people have taken to the internet is fundraising. There are many avenues to find funding for projects, events and more online. Several “crowdfunding” websites allow a person or group to post a proposal for the public to fund. It’s a lot simpler than it sounds.

For instance, my second-cousin is a musician who creates work under the moniker “DJ Colette.” She wanted to produce an album she had been working on for three years, but didn’t have the funds that a major record label would offer. So, she made a post to a crowdfunding website and asked for pledges to raise money for the album.

Crowdfunding websites don’t operate as a charity. When users donate to a project, they are given rewards based on how much they give. I pledged $10 toward the project. Once the fundraising drive was completed, I was sent a digital copy of the album. If I were to have given more, I could have received a T-Shirt, a signed physical copy of the album and other goodies.

Cases of fraud and misuse do pop up on crowdfunding sites. However, many more benefit the lives of the project’s creators and sometimes their communities. Webster City is one such community that can benefit from an upcoming online fundraiser for the Webster City Theater.

I’ve been covering the progress that the Help Entertain and Restore Organization, HERO, has been making toward reopening the theater. Webster City Chamber Director Deb Brown told me the group is planning to host a fundraising drive on a crowdfunding website in the near future. While the group is busy closing on the purchase of the theater building, their efforts will soon turn to getting money they need to make vital upgrades to the building. That includes building maintenance and purchasing a digital projector as nondigital projectors are no longer supported by the film industry as of the beginning of this year.

The fundraiser is set to be hosted on the website IndieGoGo.com. As with similar drives, those who give money to bring back the Webster Theater will get rewards based on how much they donate. What those rewards will be has not yet been finalized. However, the group is working on T-Shirts for the heroes that donate to save the theater and is considering rewards of popcorn, tickets and more.

As much as I’d love to buy a seat at the theater and have my name placed on a seat that will hopefully be used for many years to come, I don’t have that kind of money to throw around. But, I think there are many people in the community who will be willing to pitch in a bit to bring back the theater when the drive begins. If the community comes together on this, we can bring back a staple of downtown.

Be sure to watch for updates on the group’s page at facebook.com/savethewebster if you’re interested. The drive is only one way the group is raising money to reopen the theater. Donors can currently give to the organization online through the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines if you just can’t wait to see the theater reopened at desmoinesfoundation.org/HEROFund. I know I can’t wait much longer.