Film Center donations reach $550,000 goal

M.V. Film Society raises enough money to buy M.V. Film Center.

In this 2011 photo, Richard Paradise and Sam Dunn shake hands outside the future home of Martha's Vineyard Film Center. -File photo

In 2012, the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society made a deal to locate a new movie theater in the redeveloped marketplace in Tisbury. Now, nearly 10 years later, the film society will soon take over ownership of the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center at the Tisbury Marketplace on Beach Road, thanks to generous donors and a state grant.

“I’m very blessed that we have so many great donors,” Richard Paradise, executive director and founder of the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society, told The Times.

Paradise announced that the film society had reached its goal in a newsletter that went out to supporters on Sunday. “SUCCESS!” the headline blared. “Because of your help we are now poised to purchase the property that houses the Film Center, securing our long-term future on the Island!”

The building, located in Tisbury Marketplace, is the home of the film society’s movie theater. The film society boasts more than 2,500 members, and has 35,000 admissions annually.

Paradise will use $550,000 raised in private donations to help pay the $1.5 million to Sam Dunn, developer of Tisbury Marketplace. The film society was also the recipient of a $200,000 matching grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

According to Paradise, the film society is preapproved for a mortgage with Martha’s Vineyard Bank, which is awaiting an appraisal on the property. If all goes well, Paradise said he could close the deal by the end of December.

There are three main reasons that it’s better to own the facility — annual costs savings on the operating budget, making capital improvements makes more sense for a building owner, and control over the building, Paradise said.

He estimates he’ll save between $30,000 and $35,000 per year by owning the building. “That’s pretty significant, since we have 10 or 11 years more on our lease,” he said. “That’s more than $300,000 we’ll save. We can put that toward the mortgage or for capital expenses.”

There may be a need for capital improvements to the building, and it makes sense to do that when you’re “investing in a building you own,” Paradise said.

As a renter, the film society had no say on the Tisbury Marketplace, which is a condominium association. “As an owner, the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society will have a vote and seat at the table,” Paradise said. “As a renter, even though we were treated well, we could not vote on things having to do with the condominium association. We weren’t at the table. Only the owners were at the table. As an owner, a representative of the film society can sit on the board of trustees that makes up the policies for the Tisbury Marketplace.”

Paradise said he’s grateful for Dunn working with him in 2012, as well as the many people who have donated to the film society and believe in its mission. There were no fancy galas, no parties, Paradise said. Instead, he just reached out to folks who have donated in the past and film center regulars.

“I never take it for granted for one day. We only exist because of our members and our donors. An annual membership could be $25 to $2,500. We value all of them,” he said. “I also value our donors who make a charitable gift with no expectation of anything in return … I’m blessed to have a community that supports the arts.”


    • Thank you Tom for your support over the years and helping to deliver water and beverages to and from for our annual MV International Film Festival receptions back in the day. Remember that.

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