The Strand Theatre’s new membership program has begun, providing an opportunity for community members to support the theater while enjoying some perks.

The 90-year old Strand, a landmark of the downtown area, recently became a nonprofit organization when the Simmons family donated it to the Friends of the Strand Theatre (FOST). As a nonprofit, tax-exempt entity, the Strand can now accept tax-deductible gifts and pursue grants from a variety of sources to underwrite its programming.

“We are confident that our new membership program will offer something for everyone in the community,” said Jo Dondis, chair of the FOST board. “There will be various membership levels and although no one has to be a Strand member to attend the theater, we’re hoping that the community will view the Strand as its own theater and support it as an important and necessary cultural resource.”

Community membership support will make it possible for FOST to maintain the historic theater’s facilities, along with its state-of-the art projection and sound systems. Funds from membership also will underwrite the Strand’s independent film program and its diverse, year-round venue of live music, performing arts and special events.

Membership dues will be tax deductible to the extent of the law and ticket prices will not change. All over the country, successful and well-established independent theaters offset their operating costs by offering membership programs, said Strand Theatre Executive Director Sarah Ruddy.

“Folks truly get to become a part of the theaters they love, while also allowing us to keep bringing audiences the programs they love without raising our prices. We offer a lot of different membership levels; for as little as $50 you can get some great perks like free tickets and know that you are contributing to helping the Strand continue to bring great movie, concerts, and events to the whole community,” Ruddy said.

Among independent theaters around the country offering membership programs, dues represent about 9 percent of total income. The Strand recently received the Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Award for Innovation in Business, recognizing it as an organization that has demonstrated a proactive and innovative approach toward finding solutions to business challenges and has embraced change as an opportunity for growth.

To find out more about becoming a member, contact the membership coordinator at or call 594-0070, ext. 5. To learn more about how one can support The Strand or to make a tax-deductible donation, contact Ruddy at or call 701-5053. For more information about Strand Theatre films, live concerts, HD broadcasts or other events, visit

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or