Ragtag wins tax credits

Wednesday, November 21, 2007 | 7:45 p.m. CST; updated 4:14 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

COLUMBIA — Ragtag Cinemacafe is giving away money.

Sort of.

The Missouri Department of Economic Development has granted Ragtag $218,500 in Neighborhood Assistance Program tax credits that are activated by donations to Ragtag’s Cinemania capital campaign.

The tax credits “form the bedrock of our capital campaign,” said David Wilson, Ragtag co-founder and board member. “There’s no actual money that is donated to Ragtag (by the state). It’s an incentive to get people to donate money,” he said.

When a business makes a donation to the Ragtag — whether $25, $250, $2,500 or even $25,000 — half that donation will get knocked directly off the donor’s state tax bill. The Ragtag’s status as a not-for-profit corporation makes it eligible for the credits. Individual taxpayers, however, cannot make donations under the tax credit program unless they have business income.

The Neighborhood Assistance Program is designed to help not-for-profit groups gain funding for projects that improve their communities and create an economic spark.

Ragtag business manager Sarah Bantz said the theater hopes to raise $600,000 with its capital campaign, “We’d hope to raise the bulk of that in the next few months,” she said.

A large portion of the $600,000, Wilson said, would go toward new projectors, digital projectors, an improved sound system and seating in Ragtag’s new location in the old Kelly Press building at 10 Hitt St.

Wilson said he hopes work on the building will be far enough along that the Ragtag can use it for the True/False Film festival, which runs from Feb. 28 through March 2.

The Ragtag’s new location is an ambitious undertaking that will house a 75-seat theater, a 150-seat theater, as well as a new home for Uprise Bakery and 9th Street Video. Architect Brian Pape designed the renovations for the building, and Huebert Building is doing the work.

Pape said that because the building is on the National Register of Historic Places, “We had some restrictions on what we could and couldn’t do.” Designs call for retaining the facade, doors, windows and even an overhead loading door where Coca-Cola trucks would pull up during the building’s days as a bottling plant.

The inclusion of facilities for Uprise Bakery also presented some unique design challenges.

“Working out the stoves, ovens, worktables, all that food preparation, dish washing — there’s a lot that had to go into that place,” Pape said with a laugh. “I’ve worked on restaurants, bars, bars and restaurants, other kinds of mixed commercial jobs before, (but) this is unique. To have a bakery, bar and restaurant as the concession for the theater, that is very unique.”

Bantz is just excited about the tax credits and grateful for the program and the building.

“We had trouble finding an old building with a wide enough clear space” for the theater’s needs, Bantz said. “We wouldn’t be Ragtag, if we weren’t downtown.”

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