June 23, 2020; Enid News & Eagle (Enid, OK)
One thing about recessions is that they tend to bring out the entrepreneur in some people. This goes for nonprofits as well as businesses, and in this time of pandemic recovery, what better project than a drive-in theater?
It’s nothing new to view a local cultural institution as a potential anchor that benefits the local economy. That’s why many cities invest in them as a part of a thriving downtown. But in the case of Enid, Oklahoma’s Trail Drive-In Theatre, the couple who are planning on reopening the theater as a nonprofit are going straight to local businesses for the funding to make it all work.
The plan has been in the works for around 16 years, ever since Tony Weedn and his wife Haylee first came to town for his flight training at Vance Air Force Base. Now, they are planning to stay on, and Tony says they want to do something that can fulfill a dream while aiding local business.
Will those businesses invest, though? That’s the real test. To date, they have donated practical gifts like land clearing and legal services. There’s also a crowdfunding site set up at SaveTheDriveIn.com/enid with a goal of raising $250,000. Contributing accords donors voting rights on such stuff as the name of the theater, branding, a community workday schedule, board of directors, events, “and any other initial necessities that should arise.”
That is in Phase 1; in the next phase, contributors will vote on the best business model to adopt.
As of Tuesday, there are 119 donors who have given a total of $8,499—bringing them up to three percent of goal, with 18 days left to go. It’s a search for venture capital done in a way that requires collective will from local small businesses and future customers.—Ruth McCambridge