Barrington’s Catlow theater fundraising drive ends far past goal

It took The Catlow theater in Barrington only seven days this summer to raise the $100,000 needed for a new digital projector through an online fundraiser.

But by the time the full 60-day campaign on ended Monday afternoon, 1,394 backers had helped the 85-year-old landmark raise $175,395.

Though Catlow owners Tim O’Connor and Roberta Rapata have known since early August that they’d met their goal, having a final figure Monday helped estimate a bit more firmly what kind of improvements they could afford at the theater and how long they would take.

They know, however, that they have enough to cover the top priority — a new digital projector, without which the theater will be unable to show any new releases after some point in 2013.

Being a bit over the goal was automatically necessary, O’Connor said, because Kickstarter gets 5 percent of the total funds raised and Amazon Payments gets between 3 and 5 percent.

Amazon Payments will hold onto the funds for the next 14 days, a period in which the validity of all the credit cards that were used will be tested. Only at the end of that time will an absolutely final tally be known, O’Connor said.

“We are advised by Kickstarter not to order anything or start the rewards process until the funds are transferred into The Catlow’s account,” he added. “This helps to eliminate any unforeseen problems that may occur from now until that time.”

For funds left over after the projector, O’Connor and Rapata have a priority list.

Number one is a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, which is expected to be more expensive than early estimates suggested.

They also plan to address a long-running problem with their ladies’ room. And in order not to miss the window of opportunity afforded by this summer’s warm, dry weather, they’ve already jumped on two small roof repairs and the repainting of the upright sign and marquee.

“We also need a smaller HVAC system for the projection booth to protect the equipment from heat, cold and humidity,” O’Connor said. “If the temperatures get too extreme, the digital equipment will shut itself off to protect the electronics — in the middle of a show if it has to. So that needs to be taken care of right off the bat.”

Other related improvements include an upgrade to the sound system as well as to the physical acoustics of the auditorium.

Though the public saw exactly when the original goal of $100,000 for the projector was reached, people kept asking through email, Facebook and on the Kickstarter comment board what else the Catlow might need, O’Connor said. And as those questions were answered, the donations continued to roll in.

During the campaign, O’Connor said it became clear that the donations were coming not only from loyal members of the community but others around the country and the world dedicated to seeing historic movie houses survive the conversion to the digital age.

Thanks to a successful online fundraiser to buy a new digital projector, the 85-year-old Catlow theater in downtown Barrington is now looking forward to a future beyond 2013. Daily Herald file photo
  Though sitting in an auditorium designed in the 1920s, Catlow audiences will soon be watching movies projected digitally in true 21st-century style. George LeClaire/
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