Appeal: Community support needed for Best Video Film & Cultural Center

Dear Friends:

Without a groundswell of support, Best Video faces the very real threat of having to shut our doors.

What happens in the very near future will determine whether Best Video Film and Cultural Center will close, will limp along, or will soar.

• If you are not already a member, become a member today by signing up online or coming into our space. Programming director Hank Hoffman suggests a target of 200 additional members over the next few months in order to have enough recurring revenue to cover our current operating expenses.

Make a donation online (or in person). General manager Richard Brown says raising $20,000 would catch us up with bills currently owed to vendors. Even better, BVFCC Board of Directors President David Margolis points out that raising $50,000 would enable us to also pay off the remaining debt to Best Video founder Hank Paper and establish a financial cushion that would facilitate expanded community programming and improvements to the physical space.

After more than a year-and-a-half of operation, BVFCC is proud of the community support that has carried us this far. We have already raised over $35,000 in donations in the fiscal year beginning October 2016. Of particular note as a marker of the value the community places on Best Video, is this year’s performance in The Great Give, the May online charity marathon organized by the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. Out of some 500 worthy nonprofits, BVFCC finished in the Top 10 in number of individual donors and in the Top 25 in total contributions.

Unfortunately, despite our successes, when it comes to bringing in enough income to cover our expenses and pay off our debts, we are falling short. We have a 2nd Anniversary Gala celebration planned for November. We had hoped to get to that event without calling on the public but a slower than expected summer necessitates this appeal.

The average monthly operational income shortfall that donations need to make up is approximately $4,700; in the past ten months, we have been averaging about $3,500 in donations. Good but not quite enough. ($2,000 of that $4,700 per month is remaining debt for the purchase of the assets; that obligation is fulfilled by June of next year.)

Presenting programming to delight and educate the community. Dr. Caterwaul’s Cadre of Clairvoyant Claptraps playing music from “The Simpsons” TV show to a sold-out crowd this past July.

When we opened as a nonprofit in November 2015, we knew that the traditional video rental model was not viable. For several years leading up to Hank Paper’s sale of Best Video’s assets to BVFCC, rental income was decreasing by 20% a year. Anticipating that the trend would continue, we started offering annual membership plans. With membership plans starting at $10 per month, we projected that if we can reach 700-1,000 members by the end of the third year, we would be able to replace the rental income with membership revenue.

The good news is that almost 370 households have signed up for one of the three membership plans. The bad news is that—for BVFCC not to run into recurrent cash flow crises and, ultimately, face the awful decision to close—we need 200-500 more member households.

We know that we can make that happen. Approximately 5,000 households support Best Video each year by renting videos, purchasing items at our cafe, or attending our events. If just one in five sign up for a membership plan, then we will reach our goal. If just one in ten make a donation of $100 or more, then we will exceed our goal of raising an additional $50,000 this year. Many hands…

If BVFCC were just a “video store,” we would have closed years ago. And perhaps deservedly so. But BVFCC is much more than that. It is a community gathering place, a performance venue, a film screening room, a national-level archive of the history of cinema, and a safe place for neighborhood children to come and hang out after school. It is a place where people, film, and music come together.

BVFCC exists bring people, film, and music together.Pre-Oscars Brunch this past February.

When you are a member of Best Video Film & Cultural Center—whether you pay on a recurring monthly basis or get a 10% discount by paying annually—BVFCC becomes your library of film. Depending on your level of membership, you get free admission to from 1-4 shows per month. Most importantly, you are part of a community dedicated to keeping BVFCC as an essential part of the cultural wealth of the greater New Haven area.

Very Truly Yours,
The BVFCC Board:

David Margolis, President
Scott White, Treasurer
Jean Blue, Secretary
Elin Schoen Brockman
Linda Satin Pancoast
Avi Kamrat
Richard Brown, General Manager
Hank Hoffman, Programming Director

Thanks to all who made our Pre-Oscars Brunch event a success!

Thanks to everyone who supported our Pre-Oscars Brunch & Fundraiser this past Sunday (photos below)! We grossed about $1,500 between ticket sales and donations. And a fine time was had by the about 60 BVFCC members and supporters who attended.

A great spread of savory and sweet snacks were available at the Pre-Oscars Brunch.

Congratulations to the winners of the Oscar Ballot contest: Lisa Carter, Jennifer Kaylin and LeeJy Rudenjak.

BVFCC members Robin Hochstrasser and Jim Kubat fill out their Oscar ballots.

Thanks in particular to Wave Gallery, Cafe Amici, Paul & Eddy’s Pizza, Edge Fitness, baker Carol Merriman, Cork & Barrel, Garden House Floral & Home, Park Central Tavern, Spring Glen Cleaners, Gold’s Delicatessen of Westport, Phylis Satin and Anne DeGregorio for donating prizes or food for the event.

Thanks also to musicians Joe Carter and Tim Moran for the wonderful entertainment.

Tim Moran (saxes and flute, left) and Joe Carter (guitar, right) provided beautiful music for the event. Singers Isabella Mendes and Linda Satin made guest appearances.

And thanks to the BVFCC Board members who made it happen—Linda Satin-Pancoast, David Margolis and Scott White.

Board member David Margolis pours mimosas for event attendees.

Check out the write-up on the event at the New Haven Independent.

Board member Linda Satin-Pancoast sings a jazz song at the event.

BVFCC to host Oscars day brunch and fundraiser Sun., Feb. 26, from 4-6 PM

The red carpet rolls out when Best Video Film & Cultural Center hosts an afternoon Oscars brunch and fundraiser on Sunday, Feb. 26, from 4-6 PM. It’s the perfect event to get ready for the evening Academy Awards ceremony. The Oscars brunch will be held at BVFCC, located at 1842 Whitney Avenue in Hamden.

Admission includes mimosas, a bagel bar, quiche and assorted desserts. Jazz duo Joe Carter (guitar) and Tim Moran (sax and flute) will provide background music.

Each attendee will be given an Oscar ballot to fill out with great prizes for those who correctly choose the most winners. Among the prizes are a $100 Wave Gallery gift card and a $100 Café Amici gift certificate. Drawings for door prizes will also be held throughout the event.

Tickets are $25 in advance—available at BVFCC or online through Brown Paper Tickets—or $30 at the door. Additional tax-deductible donations above the cost of the ticket are welcomed.

BVFCC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing people, film, and music together. For more information, check bestvideo.com or call (203) 287-9286.

Film screening and fundraiser with India-based (and Hamden native) disability advocate Jonathan Sigworth Sat., Aug. 16, 3:30—6 PM

ESCIP_promo_WebFilmmaker Jonathan Sigworth will screen his award-winning short documentary “More Than Walking” and discuss his advocacy for those in India—like himself—with disabilities. The event begins at 3:30 PM with a Meet and Greet. At 4 PM, Jonathan will screen the film and tell some stories about his experiences. From 5—6 PM, there will be a Q&A with refreshments. There is no charge for this event but Jonathan will be soliciting donations for the nonprofit he founded, Empowering Spinal Cord Injured Persons, or ESCIP.

When telling you where he’s from, Jonathan might say Hamden, CT… but more often than not he’ll say New Delhi, India and then wait for you to ask how he ended up there. Jonathan’s award winning short documentary “More Than Walking” tells that story, as well as the basis for his current work in Delhi running a transitional living house for quadriplegics like himself.

After the film, Jonathan will share about some of the other wheelchair users he has met while living in India this past year  and the unique challenges and creative opportunities they face in breaking down stereotypes and stigmas of disability. His transitional living program in Delhi offers peer-mentoring, wheelchair rugby, physical therapy, disco dancing, and vocational rehabilitation to residents. Oh yes, Disco Dancing.

For a sneak peak at Jonathan’s work, visit www.escip.org. Jonathan is Co-Founder & Director of ESCIP Trust India, Empowering Spinal Cord Injured Persons.

Thanks for making the Best Video fundraiser a success!

Crowd_shot_WebThanks to everybody who made Sunday’s fundraiser both a financial and social success!

Thanks to Carol Merriman (who baked wonderful cookies and brownies), to Caseus Cheese Shop (which gave us a big break on two wonderful large cheese platters), to Karen Kleinerman (who donated some delicious chocolate candies) and to Best Video member Luisa Chapman (who brought in a shrimp platter).

Thanks to the musicians who donated their time and skill: cellists Ravenna Michalsen and Lynne Bonnett; jazz musicians Jeff Fuller and Joe Carter; folk musicians James Velvet and Johnny Memphis; and the members of the quintet trumpeter Nick Di Maria assembled for the event—Nick, Mark Kaplan, Nate Trier, Aaron Nobel and Greg Perault.

Thanks to the artists who donated work for our silent auction: Tony Juliano, Gerald Saladyga, Steven DiGiovanni, William McCarthy, Nancy Eisenfeld, Marjorie Gillette Wolfe, Keith Johnson, Peter Ziou, Joan Fitzsimmons, Graham Honaker, Christopher Mir, Hank Paper.

And especially thanks to our members who came out in droves and made the afternoon such a joyful community event.

If you wanted to donate but couldn’t make it, you still can do so by dropping by the store, sending a check to Best Video (put “fundraiser” in the memo) or calling up and putting a donation on your card.Ravenna_Michalsen_Web

Mark Your Calendar: Best Video fundraiser on Sun., June 29, from 3—6 PM (UPDATED 6/27—Silent Art Auction, Performers, Premiums for Larger Donations)

Fundraiser_color_alt version_rev_062714_WebUPDATED 6/27: Silent art auction! Details below.

UPDATED 6/26: Premiums for different donation levels posted!

UPDATE 6/23: Performers names and times posted below!

Best Video is holding a fundraiser on Sunday afternoon, June 29, from 3—6 PM to help defray the costs of our renovations. Donation levels for attending are Friend ($25 and up), Patron ($50 and up), Movie Star ($100 and up), Oscar Winner ($500 and up) and Mogul ($1,000 and up)There will be special premiums for Patron, Movie Star, Oscar Winner and Mogul donors.

Patron donors ($50) will receive one monthly free rental for a year as well as a Best Video coffee mug. For the Movie Stars among you ($100 donation), expect the monthly free rental, the coffee mug and a Best Video t-shirt. Oscar Winners get the mug and t-shirt as well as two free movies per week for a year. If you’re a Mogul, you’re entitled to the mug, the t-shirt and four free movies per week for a year.

The event will feature music, delicious snacks (from baker Carol Merriman, renowned New Haven restaurant Caseus and others). The store may be closed during the event, which will be a fun time where members and supporters of the store can relax, chat, network and enjoy the music. Let’s all celebrate the continued vitality of our contribution to the local cultural community. And learn more about our plans for expanded programming in our beautiful new Performance Space.

Cellist Ravenna Michalsen will perform works from the English/Scottis/Irish cello canon from 3:05—3:30 PM with accompaniment by cellist Lynne Bonnett. Brazilian music with jazz inflections will be offered from 3:50—4:15 by bassist Jeff Fuller and guitarist Joe Carter. Local singer-songwriter and proponent of Local Bands on WPLR-FM James Velvet takes a turn from 4:35—5 PM, joined by his guitar-playing compatriot Johnny Memphis. And from 5:20—5:45 PM, trumpeter Nick Di Maria will offer up some swinging modern jazz sounds with his quintet.

There will also be a silent art auction as part of this event. Among the respected local artists and photographers who have donated or will be donating works are Gerald Saladyga, Marjorie Wolfe, Keith Johnson, Christopher Mir, Steven DiGiovanni, William McCarthy, Nancy Eisenfeld, Tony Juliano, Graham Honaker and Best Video owner Hank Paper.

Make your reservation in advance at the store or by phone (203-287-9286) or contribute at the door on June 29.

If you want to contribute but can’t make it on Sunday, you can still support us! You can drop by the store and contribute, or call and use a card (203-287-9286) or send a check to Best Video, Attention: Best Video Fundraiser, 1842 Whitney Ave., Hamden, CT 06517.

Enlist your neighbors and encourage your friends to sign up for our email list at our BestVideo.com Web site or at the front counter in the store.

Stay tuned for more details!