It’s official, and it was a long time coming—or at least, it seemed like a long time for the Friends of the Hollywood Theater, who applied for official nonprofit status from the IRS in March.
The Friends of the Hollywood Theater received official nonprofit designation earlier this month.
“Now that the waiting’s over we can engage full warp drive and go after some grants,” said Fred Terling, president of the Friends group. “We’re excited that we can launch into the next year.”
A group at Carnegie Mellon University drew up a sustainability report earlier this year, he said, that the Friends could use as a guideline for how to keep the theater running successfully. All they needed to make the plan happen was official nonprofit designation.
The wait was frustrating, Terling said. Without official nonprofit status, the group couldn’t solicit donations or apply for grant funding. To keep the theater running until nonprofit status was awarded, it would have to generate it’s own revenue.
Fortunately, he said, the Hollywood was able to support itself with movie showings, rentals and special events. The Friends were fully focused on keeping the theater alive, because they all knew what a unique asset to the community it is, he said.
Margaret Jackson, who serves as secretary of the Friends of the Hollywood Theater, grew up in the South Hills, and said she frequented the Hollywood, as well as the South Hills Theater and the Dennis Theater.
“Watching the South Hills fall under the wrecking ball and be turned into yet another CVS was gut wrenching,” she said in an email on Thursday. “I don’t want to see that happen again to another local theater.”
Jackson is thrilled that the public already has embraced the theater, she said, and she hopes the nonprofit status will secure the Hollywood’s future in Dormont.
“We know times are tough, but we hope the nonprofit status will encourage people to support the Friends of the Hollywood Theater in our endeavor to purchase the building and keep the balcony open forever,” she said.
The Friends now strive to gain grant funding and to integrate the theater into the community more, Terling said. He said applying for grant funding will be the Friends first goal. The group also has plans to work with other local businesses to provide food and supplies for events.
“We approached this with the idea that we’re here to stay,” Terling said. “We’re in this for the long haul.”