Recently, the locally beloved Ragtag Cinema underwent a major organizational change. According to a press release from the Ragtag Film Society on June 26, the leadership model would be changing drastically.
Former Executive Director Jeremy Brown stepped down to pursue a new career, leaving Ragtag in need of a replacement. Three seasoned veterans of the RFS quickly came together to write a proposal for the board of directors. After review, the board decided to move forward with Barbie Banks, Camellia Cosgray and Arin Liberman as Co-Executive Directors.
“I think our commitment to the organization and the fact that the organization has had a lot of women in it doing a lot of the big jobs, it seemed like the right time to then allow women to have the top position,” Banks says.
Banks believes the collaborative leadership model offers the most benefit to Ragtag.
“The breaking up of all the tasks at hand allowed us to drive specific parts of the organization and people but still allow us to collaborate with each other,” she says.
The new leadership model is not the only major change affecting Ragtag. In light of the continued COVID-19 pandemic, the theater faces new economic hurdles.
Ragtag is currently relying on their savings and community donations to stay afloat. Under normal circumstances, tickets account for nearly 50% of the cinema's profit. Right now, it marks about 1%.
“Summer tends to be low numbers for us, so we always have a bit of a lull during this time,” Banks says. “This summer, we can no longer rely on admissions to the film to keep us afloat.”
The community has stepped up to help its local independent theater. Despite the loss of partnership with The Crossing Church in October, a loss that took with it nearly $40,000, Ragtag was able to quickly make up the sponsorship money. But the money wasn't Banks' biggest concern.
“The Crossing congregation tends to be more conservative, and our patrons tend to be more liberal," Banks says. "The partnership allowed them to come together over movies and discuss hard-hitting topics. That’s the biggest loss for us."
Another change involving Ragtag is the cancelation of the annual Boone Dawdle Festival. The Boone Dawdle has been replaced with a birthday party drive-in extravaganza in mid-August to celebrate Ragtag's 20th year.
The 1996 film Waiting for Guffman is the movie of choice for the celebration. This film was the first ever shown at Ragtag and tells the story of a small town in Missouri getting ready to hold a festival.
Les Bourgeois Vineyards will provide food at the event. Patrons will have the option to purchase a four-person picnic meal or a four-person charcuterie board, but Banks says specific items are yet to be determined.
Even with all these changes, Ragtag remains true in its mission.
“Our mission is about captivating audiences and engaging people in art and we think we can do that in a new way even though we have this pandemic as a barrier,” Banks says.
Banks notes that Ragtag has re-opened and has been following precautions and sanitary measures to make sure the theater is clean and safe.
Whenever film fanatics are ready to head back to the movies, Ragtag will be ready for them.