Oldcastle meets fundraising goal for new sound system


BENNINGTON -- The Oldcastle Theatre Company has met its Kickstarter goal, and hopes to soon begin the installation of its new sound and hearing assistance systems.

The deadline for the Kickstarter fundraising was Friday, July 18. According to marketing director Jennifer Cullen, the theater company wouldn't have met their goal of $8,500 if not for a generous $2,000 donation on one of the final days. Between that and the submission of about $2,000 in offline donations allowed the company to raise it's final total to $8,722 by the end of the fundraising period. "All of a sudden, that was $4,000 we had, right at the end," said Cullen.

Founded in 2009, the website Kickstarter was designed as a way to crowd-fund creative projects, including films, games, music, and art. According to the website, 6.5 million people have pledged over $1 billion towards 64,000 projects since its inception. Project creators set a fundraising goal, and donors pledge money toward that project. At the end of the fundraising period, if the project has reached its goal, the donors and charged and the project moves along. If the project does not reach its goal, the donors are charged nothing, ensuring that their money does not go towards a project that doesn't get completed.

This can make Kickstarter somewhat more risky than traditional fundraising, but Cullen pointed out that the system has benefits as well. "Of the 36 donors on the Kickstarter, 10 had never been to the theater before," she said, "They just saw our project and wanted to donate. Having that sort of reach is something we're really proud of." She said that for future projects, such as replacing the lighting system and the roof of the theater, the company would probably utilize a mix of Kickstarter campaigns and traditional fundraising at their shows.

In the weeks leading up to their fundraising deadline, Cullen said the theater made requests for aid before each of their showings of "4000 Miles," and widely publicized their Kickstarter on both Facebook and through their email list, asking people to pass the link and information about the project on to their friends. Cullen said this lead to, besides the one $2,000 donation, many smaller gifts of $25-$100, which were critical to their reaching their goal.

When Oldcastle first began fundraising for this project, they received large donations from the Bennington Lions and the Bennington Rotary Club, which dropped the total remaining price tag of the project down from $14,000 to the $8,500 that was set as the Kickstarter goal. Kickstarter estimates that it will take about two weeks to get the funds to Oldcastle, after which they will begin having discussions with engineers to determine when the actual renovations will take place. Cullen said that the theater hopes to either have the work done in the two-week gap between "4000 Miles" and "My Fair Lady," or during the four-week gap after My Fair Lady's conclusion. "It's always been kind of a community project," said Cullen, "People are starting to put their money back into Bennington."

Cullen expressed a desire that Oldcastle should become a destination to bring more people into the town and improve its economy.

"We're just going to savor this victory, then we'll see what the next part brings," she said with a laugh, "It never ends."

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB


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