Last week we reported that The New Parkway was close to reopening Oakland’s beloved Parkway Theater next spring or summer, assuming two things happen: the group raises enough to cash to help fix up the run-down building, and head honcho J. Moses Ceasar turns his good rapport with the building’s owners into a signed contract. While discussions are still pending on the latter front, it seems the funding picture is looking brighter every day — and surprisingly close to being a done deal.
The New Parkway’s online Kickstarter fund-raising campaign, designed to encourage buy-in from members of the community through incentives, started slow but finished with a bang. In its final 24 hours, supporters pledged more than $27,000 to push the campaign past its $50,000 goal. When it concluded on December 3, it had raised $56,832 from nearly 1,000 people.
“I was surprised that it made it,” Ceaser said. “And thrilled. … The Kickstarter campaign created this whole wave of energy and excitement.” After the campaign closed, Ceaser said, inquiries began flooding in about how people could keep contributing. He says that while he may not be able to continue offering incentives such as free movie tickets and lifetime passes, he is accepting cash donations.
“Any donations we get are not going to go into anyone’s pockets,” Ceaser said. “It’s just going to improve our start-up and our sustainability.”
On the equity investment side, The New Parkway’s business model calls for another $350,000 in start-up costs. Thanks to the runaway success of the Kickstarter campaign, Ceaser said, even that effort may soon be a wrap. Between 50 and 75 potential investors have already expressed interest, he said, and investor meetings over the next week should draw as many as 25 people each. If all goes well, The New Parkway could finish its funding cycle by the end of the year — rather than sometime in January as originally projected — and ultimately end up with even more money than it needs.
“The demand is there,” Ceaser said. Now he just needs to ink that contract.