The State Theater goes digital

TUPPER LAKE - An outpouring of community support has helped the State Theater here reach its fundraising goal for buying digital equipment needed to keep the nearly 100-year-old theater in business.

The movie industry is mandating conversion from film to digital projectors by the end of the year, and it is expensive. Enter the Adirondack North Country Association, which is leading a regional "Go Digital or Go Dark" campaign to raise money for digital conversion of 10 Adirondack North Country theaters.

The State's owner, Sally Strasser, was looking at raising around $95,000 for the digital projection packages to update her theater's two screens. Strasser started with a $35,000 state grant in 2012.

Community members and organizations stepped in last month to rally around the village's theater. As of Tuesday morning, Aug. 27, the $95,000 goal had been met, with approximately $60,000 raised since Aug. 1.

The Tupper Lake Arts Council got the fundraising ball rolling, announcing a donation of $10,000 and a $5,000 matching grant Aug. 1. Around the same time, the Gull Pond Association started its own matching challenge, spearheaded by a $5,000 donation by the Sellin Family, resulting in a whopping $16,200 raised over just three weeks.

The Belleville family created a matching gift of $5,000 and Stewart's Shops made a $5,000 contribution. As the final numbers are tallied, any additional money raised will go toward installation costs such as wiring, equipment shipping, and heating / cooling system updates.


The strong rally is a testament to Tupper's track record for previous successful, grassroots-driven campaigns, said Eileen Hayes of the Tupper Lake Arts Council. "I am so proud to be a part of this community."

"Time after time Tupper comes together for worthy endeavors whether it is saving a movie theater, helping a sick child, or easing the traumatic consequences of a fire. There are no limits or judgments when it comes to helping neighbors in need."

_The grassroots approach is evident in the large number of supporters and the range in donations, said Hayes. "We had a cadre of super generous donors and we are extremely grateful for their efforts," she said.

Along with that, the smaller gifts are just as meaningful. "I was stopped on the street and given $4 from someone who was clearly giving from their substance not their excess, and I was just so moved. Thank you for all donations, big and small."


The theater will be closed starting Sept. 6 to install the new equipment. Strasser expects to reopen in October. A community "thank you" event will be planned to coincide with the debut of the new digital projectors.

Of the 10 theaters in the Go Digital or Go Dark Campaign, three have either done the work or are in the process of doing it: Queensbury's The Glen Drive In, Indian Lake Theater and the State in Tupper Lake.

Ogdensburg Cinema closed. Of the remaining six, The Strand in Old Forge has raised more than $85,000, including $30,000 raised July 26 in a single gala event. The theater has a $25,000 grant as well, but still has about $150,000 to go to upgrade its four screens.

Go Digital or Go Dark is a partnership of ANCA and the Adirondack Film Society. More information on the campaign and links to give a tax-deductible donation online can be found at

One may also mail checks to ANCA, 67 Main St., Saranac Lake NY 12983. Write on the check which theater and community it is for, or one can give to a "general fund" that will be distributed to theaters as needed. Donations are tax-deductible.