Magick Lantern is a non-profit Cinema Arts organization that plans to benefit the community through education, discussion, and showing of films across many cultures, countries and subject matters. The goal is to provide a viable alternative to the commercial movie experience through showing newly released independent and international films, documentaries, children’s cinema and classic films. Magick Lantern intends to fulfill its educational mission by inviting filmmakers, film educators, and film producers to introduce their film and lead post-film discussions with the audience. Collaboration with Bay Area filmmakers including new, young filmmakers is intended to bring Magick Lantern to the wider film-going audience.
*Magick Lantern, Inc filed with the Secretary of State on Oct 23, 2014, with Articles of Incorporation of a Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation.
*Magick Lantern, Inc granted tax exempt status as a 501c (3) corporation under the IRS code as of March 17, 2015.
This organization was formed after the closure of a small, 40 seat for-profit theater known as Magick Lantern in Point Richmond’s downtown in September 2014 after 18 months of operation. The town’s folk fell in-love with the little theater, enjoying two weekly movies with small-town advantages like ease of parking, record low 1-5 minute drive times, meeting local folks they would otherwise never meet, and seeing a range of documentary film makers as well as repertory films not common to the commercial theaters. Most patrons greatly appreciated never having to drive to Marin, Berkeley or Richmond Hilltop for the impersonal, corporate Cineplex experience that did not contribute to their sense of community’s well-being.
In October 2014, a group of avid supporters formed teams to (1) establish non-profit, other legal status at the State and Federal agencies, (2) establish seven board members and a business plan, (3) research film distributors, movie-showing equipment, bank and on-line sales, (4) begin a fund-raising campaign, (5) set fund-raising activities and goals, (6) develop organizational methods to track donations, donors, volunteers, and list of subscribers, (7) develop marketing materials, flyers for events, and (8) create an email and web site, www.magicklantern.org.
During the 2015 year it became clear that the initial assumption to continue showing of films in the existing location was not financially feasible. The past proprietor had apparently not paid for any film licensing nor had he informed the non-profit Board members of this fact at any time. Projected expenses for film, rent, and insurance could not be met therefore with the donations raised and anticipated attendance in Point Richmond even with unpaid volunteers running the theater. Many prominent, influential Pt Richmond residents expressed their dismay of continual fund-raising for a ‘failed business venture’. This was a great disappointment to learn the Magick Lantern could not reasonably be expected to operate in a positive cash flow were it to open in the former location.
The Board subsequently decided to operate Magick Lantern on a ‘pay-as-we-go’ basis. The Board sought to secure a new location with a host amenable for a low-to-no-cost rent, minimal insurance, and continue to operate the future Magick Lantern in such a manner as to not be an annual burden on the community or its volunteers with extensive fund-raising activities. Considerable time was spent with fund raising professionals and grant writers during this time; these fund-raising options were found to be unsuitable.
Additionally, insurance premiums for non-profits were found to be a major obstacle. However, the use of a Board member’s Home Owners Insurance became a resource as a considerably less expensive option to meet general liability costs. This opportunity to use Homeowner's liability insurance lessens the financial obstacles for Magick Lantern’s success and broadens its choice of potential host partners where insurance is required.
After interviewing over 50 sites in and around Point Richmond over a 2 ½ year period, the site deemed most suitable for location, ADA access, parking, cost, room parameters and seating capacity was found to be the City of Richmond’s Pt Richmond Community Center. After repeated approaches in 2015 and then in 2017, and through six months of discussion in 2017, the Community Services Department seemed most welcoming to our proposal to show films at this location as of May of 2017. Final agreements are awaiting the installation of a window shutter system to limit light through the roof windows, a feature required for summer-time viewing.