With tourism starting up again and its community events coming back, Logotech-4-Good is set to help the Chincoteague Island Arts Organization as it reopens to the public.
The Chincoteague Island Arts Organization will receive up to $500 in promotional products from Logotech to help the non-profit group increase awareness of its programs and raise funds for its building. It will also be the first time the arts organization has offered branded items to sell at its location, said Bill Borges, the board president.
CIAO started in 2011 as concerned residents saw the island's historic 1946 movie theater face the possibility of demolition after falling into disrepair. "In the 1940s and '50s, it was the town's place to go for everything, movies, live shows, meetings, community events," he said. The group purchased the theater before it could be sold for redevelopment and completely restored the building. "CIAO brought it back to its prominence in the downtown," he said. CIAO ensured continued access to films and professional performing arts for its residents and island visitors.
The theater and the town's history is also tied to a famous literary pony. In 1947, Marguerite Henry wrote "Misty of Chincoteague." The beloved children's book series features the wild ponies of Assateague Island, situated across a narrow inlet from Chincoteague. The movie "Misty" based on the book premiered there in 1961. Misty's hoof prints are set in concrete on the sidewalk in front of the Island Theater.
The real-life horse which inspired the book are just one reason people visit. Tourists flock to the Virginia barrier island for its climate, the horses, the surrounding nature preserves and pristine beaches, its famed Chincoteague oysters, and its birding opportunities, according to Borges. Chincoteague has over one million visitors annually who come to experience the unique atmosphere of island life.
Fewer than 3,500 people live on the island year round, he said. Like many small communities, the movie theater is a linchpin for its downtown, drawing in locals and tourists alike. During the off-season, it is a place for locals to congregate as a community. During the summer, it offers visiting families an additional venue where they can share a vacation experience.
While the historic theater offers new movies on the weekend, it is open nearly every day for the community. Much like the 1940s when it first opened, they offer live theater, classic films, music, events for senior residents, families and children.
When CIAO bought the building, it had been in sad shape for many years. "It is sometimes a challenge to keep an nearly 80-year-old building in good repair," he said. All of their events were put on hold for more than a year during the pandemic and just started coming back.
If the promotional ball caps Borges wants do well for them, they may look to similar products to help raise funds in the future, he said. "The donation enables us to replace some of our lost revenue while advertising our Theatre," Borges said. "Even more importantly, it enables us to test the market without incurring a significant cost. We expect that these caps will be striking and very popular items, ones that we could purchase with confidence in the future."