Rehoboth Film Society clarifies position

August 22, 2014

In response to the article in the Aug. 5 edition of the Cape Gazette, the Rehoboth Beach Film Society wishes to provide some background information regarding the goal of establishing an arts and culture center in Sussex County.

We believe there is a significant history that is worth sharing with community members.

As early as 2002, several local arts organizations, including the Rehoboth Beach Film Society, recognized the need for an arts and culture center to house the burgeoning arts scene in southern Delaware. That year, five arts organizations formed the Southern Delaware Center for the Arts and Humanities, a 501c3 organization dedicated to establishing an arts center.

For six years, SDCAH met individually with various developers, local government officials, and legislators in search of a suitable location and support. SDCAH, although still in existence, understandably ceased its efforts during the recent recession. SDCAH is currently in the process of renewing its efforts in this regard.

In 2009, the Rehoboth Beach Film Society lost use of a theater at Movies at Midway that had generously been provided for RBFS to program as an art house theater. In response, RBFS began a search for a location to consolidate its headquarters with a two-screen theater.

Those search efforts involved partnerships with other organizations for sharing space. The film society’s search involved looking at more than 30 sites, but none was feasible.

On May 30 the RBFS hosted a breakfast with approximately 50 legislators, developers, arts organizations, realtors, and other community leaders to discuss the need for a performing arts and culture campus in Sussex County. Dennis Forney facilitated a discussion about the need for such a site and the benefits it would bring - jobs, increased state and local tax revenue, and more cultural opportunities. The concept was favorably supported by attendees.

This summer, a former RBFS board member was approached by the Lingo-Townsend group with the concept of a 10-acre donation of their proposed development along Kings Highway for the purpose of an arts center. We applaud the Lingo/Townsend group for considering the needs of several nonprofit organizations, and we urge other developers and landowners to do the same.

Although no formal offers have been received for any location, the RBFS board has discussed the potential of this location along with other sites. No decisions have been made regarding any location. We hope the community, local government officials, and the developers can work together to reach a solution that will benefit all interested parties.

RBFS has both immediate and long-term goals. Our short-term need is space to carry out our mission of presenting the cinematic arts in a professional setting for the community. We share a long-term goal with other arts organizations of creating a nonprofit campus with performing venues, classrooms, exhibition space, offices, and outdoor activity areas so that a variety of art and education programs can be provided for all ages.

Community input for making this long-term vision a reality will be greatly appreciated.

Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Board of Directors



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