Donations give new life to ailing theater in TrippTRIPP (AP) — Down to its final dollars for operating expenses, the Idle Hour Theater appeared headed for its last show.
TRIPP (AP) — Down to its final dollars for operating expenses, the Idle Hour Theater appeared headed for its last show.
The apparent final nail in the coffin was the necessity of converting to a digital projector for new movies, costing $65,000 to $85,000, said theater committee member Cindy Batterman.
However, the theater has gained new life thanks to a $50,000 bequest from the late Don Kennedy, Batterman said. The area farmer was never married, and all but one of his siblings have died, she said.
“Don had declining health, and he was trying to decide what to do with his money. He decided to give us $50,000,” she said.
“We received a letter in the mail, informing us that his estate was dissolved and we had received the gift. I never thought in reality that that amount of money would fall into our lap.”
The movie industry’s change to digital projectors threatened to put the Idle Hour out of business, Batterman said. The money made all the difference in whether the theater would close or remain open for future seasons, she said.
“Over the last 10 years we have nearly depleted our funds, and a digital projection system seemed out of our realm. We thought that maybe the theater had run its course.”
Even with Kennedy’s gift, the theater still faced an uphill battle in securing funds for a digital projector, Batterman said.
Then, the news got even better, she said.
“We heard from the technician in Council Bluffs, Iowa, who had worked with our current projection system. He said we could get a rebuilt projector for $58,000,” she said.
“We were still a little short on funds. Then, we received $1,000 from what was left over from (Tripp’s) ‘Days of ‘86’ centennial celebration, and we received other donations.”
Recently, the Idle Hour received $1,000 from the Bargain Shoppe of Tyndall, which benefits nonprofit organizations and charitable causes in Bon Homme County.
Bargain Shoppe board member Dorene Winckler of Scotland said her husband, Craig, a Tripp native, attended a meeting about the possible demise of the Idle Hour Theater.
At the meeting, Craig Winckler learned 80 percent of the theater’s patrons come from outside Tripp. Many of the moviegoers are Bon Homme County residents.
While Tripp lies in neighboring Hutchinson County, the Bargain Shoppe board donated $1,000 toward the theater, Dorene Winckler said.
“The board felt the Idle Hour Theater met the mission of our (Bargain Shoppe) group, by providing a service to Bon Homme County citizens and by benefiting rural communities,” she said.
With the additional donations, the Idle Hour organizing committee — Batterman, Joyce Laffey, Charlene Bietz and Vonnie Gall — made the move and purchased the rebuilt projector.