A lot of things need attention right now. So with everything going on, it may seem odd that this, the only fundraising letter I’ve sent to you all year, is about how we need a new — hold your excitement — boiler at the State Theatre.

When the State turned 100 years old in July, and we were celebrating this remarkable milestone, deep in the theater’s literal underbelly, trouble was a-brewing. Our ancient steam boiler, with its crazy cobbled-together parts, was on its last half-leg. We thought maybe we could make it through one more winter (one gets those dreamy thoughts on a 92-degree summer’s day).

screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-1-49-19-pmBut an unusually dark and destructive November, a November unlike any we had seen before, sent our boiler into a deep depression, and by the time December rolled around, it was clear our boiler had given up the will to live.

We are now operating on borrowed days, maybe even hours. This weekend’s winter weather has us all on pins and needles. We pray to see the coming week. It’s not quite the Donner Party here yet, but if the restaurants on each side of us get snowed in tonight, well, just sayin’…

Here’s the truth: We need a new boiler, and we need it yesterday.

We have top energy efficiency experts right here in Traverse City who can install a new boiler system that will work 100 percent better, AND save the environment from greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 84,000 miles driven by passenger car, each year.

Unfortunately, the necessary upgrades are going to cost a lot more than a new car. And the work is urgently needed so that the theater can remain comfortable and open to the public in the winter. When all is said and done, due to the system’s intricacies and how it must be custom-made to fit the infrastructure of a one hundred-year-old historic landmark with huge spaces in need of climate control, the necessary upgrades are going to cost us nearly $250,000. And it can’t wait.

So here’s my plea: If you can make a year-end contribution to the State and Bijou, and/or become a Member, you’ll be taking care of a community treasure that we safeguard together, while supporting the unique places of joy, escape, and inspiration that are our downtown theaters.

screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-1-55-30-pmYou’ll be supporting 2,823 screenings of 400 films, and the 250,000 people who come downtown to see these great movies. And what’s more, you’ll be ensuring that 30 percent of those screenings are low or no cost, with 4,904 students at free educational screenings, and tens of thousands at the 350+ community events held for the 175 nonprofits we support each year. (Read our annual report for more impressive stats and highlights.)

You’ll be providing enriching community programs that are vitally important to so many of our neighbors. The free and low priced events at the State and Bijou cost us more than $100,000 a year. We believe they are worth every penny, returning a value to the community that far exceeds their expense.

unnamed-3Now, perhaps more than ever, we need places like the State and Bijou, where everyone is welcome, and we can all sit in the dark for a few hours to experience the deep connection to the world that only great movies can offer. And we do this in classic movie palaces at affordable prices — $2 popcorn, $2 soda, no extra charge for 3D. We are able to do this because of YOU. You make this dream come true.

So, if you believe the State and Bijou are historic treasures worth saving and sharing, if you believe the theaters make Traverse City a more vibrant and dynamic place to live, if you value a town where world-class entertainment is available at prices everyone can afford, and if you can’t imagine sitting and watching a movie without heat because the boiler has gone permanently kaput, please consider making a contribution to our year-end campaign. It’s quick and easy to help, at any level.

Become a Member (memberships make great holiday gifts, too). Donate in any amount, because we need and appreciate donations of all sizes. Sponsor a State seat or Bijou brick. Volunteer. Buy a gift card (available in any amount, and they never expire). Be an Angel (tis the season). Or just make plans to join us at the movies a little more often. And accept our sincere thanks for the crucial role you play at the State and Bijou.

As we prepare for 2017, we remain truly grateful for you, and all that you do.

Michael Moore