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Madras to have community film center

Rotary event raising funds for equipment
General Editor
   Jefferson County Rotary is doing its part to open what will be the only fine arts theater in Central Oregon, by selecting the library foundation's Community Film Center as the beneficiary of Rotary's annual Cherry Tree Open fund-raiser.
   "There is nothing like this in Bend or Central Oregon," said Jefferson County Library Director Melanie Lightbody, noting the theater will also be this county's only movie theater.
   Every February the Rotary Club puts on a dinner, dance and auction known as the Washington's Birthday Ball Bash along with a Cherry Tree Open golf tournament as its major fund-raiser of the year. This year's event is slated for Feb. 16, at Eagle Crest and tickets are $37.50 per person.
   A major portion of the money raised goes to the selected organization, which partners with the Rotary Club in putting on the event. Rotary uses the rest of the proceeds to fund projects like the Rotary International Youth Exchange, Collage of Culture, SMART reading program, and scholarships for local high school students, according to organizers Brenda and John Curnutt.
   The Community Film Center is an effort of the Jefferson County Library Endowment Foundation, a nonprofit group which raises money for extra needs and reading enrichment projects outside of the library's regular budget.
   Foundation member Kathie Olson said they have been working with Lightbody on the idea for a film theater, which would be located in the Library Annex. Formerly a church, the annex already has an auditorium with small stage, where a screen could be located.
   Olson said money raised by the Rotary event will go toward the purchase of $30,000 worth of professional quality theater equipment, including VHS, DVD and 16 mm projectors, six speakers, and big screen to fit over the stage.
   The foundation has also applied for grants and contributions from the Oregon Arts Commission, Bean Foundation, county, Tribes, and other private sources.
   "The Bean Foundation has agreed to provide $3,000 in matching funds to purchase chairs for the auditorium," Olson said, noting up to now during youth activities, children have had to sit on the floor in that room.
   While the initial start-up cost is high, Lightbody estimated it will cost $5,000 per year to operate the arts theater once the equipment is purchased.
   Films shown at the theater will include the Northwest Film Festival, a touring collection of films by Northwest film makers; a Children's Film Festival of movies by children for children; and Latin American and other foreign language films with subtitles. One Saturday a month children's films will be featured, with free tickets given to Boys and Girls Club members.
   The Madras COCC Center is planning to hold a fall film festival in the theater and could also use the facility for lectures accompanied by a film, or even offer a film-making class if enough interest is shown, Olson said.
   The theater could be available for a minimal cost to community groups and individuals wanting to show videos or DVDs.
   There will be a charge for tickets to watch films, with free and discount tickets available to low income individuals.
   "We are not in this to make money. The tickets will just cover expenses," Lightbody said.