Save Video Renaissance Film Archive

$9,138 of $40,000 goal

Raised by 199 people in 16 days
Video Renaissance has been a Sarasota institution for 33 years. During its life it has been a haven for cinephiles, artists, and misfits, and it changed many of our lives. We received a cultural education from its collection of over 50,000 films, not only the entire array of golden era classics but a vast archive of the strange and obscure. 

After outlasting every other video store, Video Renaissance has finally closed its doors. But while the store is gone, we can still substantially save a vast, seemingly endless "treasure trove." 

Store owner Bill Wooldridge has started selling his collection, film by film. A small fraction has already been sold. In doing so, though, he is having to break up a library that took over three decades to assemble. VR's archive includes countless films that are not available on ANY streaming service, or that were never released in the US. It contains, along with popular hit films, a vast repository of art house films, foreign films, and lost wonders from all of 20th century cinema. You name it, VR had it. 

As Sarasota movie lovers, we believe it's a tragedy to see this collection liquidated and split up. Losing Video Renaissance means that Sarasotans will lose all access to this remarkable library. Again, in many case we are talking about stuff you WILL NOT find on Amazon or Netflix. If you want to see them, you'd have to buy them. 

For local cinephiles, that's a major loss. Few towns in America are fortunate enough to have a film archive like Sarasota has had. Yet soon none of us will be able to access it, because it will all have been sold off.

We have a chance to preserve access to these films for the people of Sarasota. If we can purchase all of the remaining stock, we can ensure that each film is housed in a publicly accessible library facility. 

That way, every single Sarasotan, rich and poor alike, will permanently be able to borrow and watch the obscure, hard-to-find, out-of-print material from Video Renaissance collection of the weird and wonderful. And FOR FREE. This will be an incredible gift to Sarasota's culture. As a city that prides itself on its support of film and the arts, and the home of the Sarasota film festival, Sarasota deserves a world-class public film library. 

Bill has to sell the collection. He has poured his life into Video Renaissance, and its stock needs to be used to ensure he can retire. But if the collection is sold piecemeal to private buyers, Sarasota will lose its premiere film library. 

If we can raise $40,000, Bill won't have to keep selling the collection piece by piece. We will be able to buy up the remaining stock and make it available to YOU forever. 

Ideally, we'd like to raise more. Bill deserves it. He has been an incredible cultural asset to the city of Sarasota. Many of us grew up loving Video Renaissance. Bill and the late Terry Porter introduced us to a whole exciting world of strange and exotic cinema. Video Renaissance was so, so much more than a video rental store. It was a community center, a place where you could always find something incredible you'd never seen before, and spend hours chatting away with Bill or Terry about what they'd seen. (And they had seen EVERYTHING.) 

Whatever we can raise will ensure that Bill gets to retire comfortably. He has suffered from serious and costly health problems in recent years, and he needs to get value out of his collection. We as Sarasota film-lovers want to make sure that as he finally closes his doors, he receives something close to the value of what his priceless films, company, and friendship have given us.

All of the money raised will go to purchasing Bill's remaining collection of tens of thousands of films from him and paying costs associated with transferring it to a library or libraries or other public archive. We are in discussion with both the Sarasota Public Library and the New College Library about how best to to proceed and make as much of this as we can available. Most likely, material not already currently available at the public library will be donated there, and for films that are already in the public library's collection, we will attempt to find a different library that does not have these films. Either way,  we will do everything we can to make sure that as much as possible of this collection is made freely available. 

With the closure of Video Renaissance, our town is losing one of its most precious cultural spaces. No matter what, it's a sad moment for our community. But we can keep a little bit of the VR magic alive by ensuring its movies end up in a public library instead of with private collectors. 

Don't just think of your contribution as a "donation." It's also a purchase: you are ensuring you have permanent free access to the VR collection of the rare, the classic, and the experimental. Instead of purchasing these films individually, or even renting them for money from a corporate streaming service (the ones that you even CAN rent), you will be able to get one at the library ANY TIME. 

Let's show that we still care about Bill, about VR's legacy, and about great movies.

ABOUT US: This campaign is being run by two Sarasota film-lovers, Damien Bythrow and Nathan J. Robinson. We are longtime fans of the store, and Damien is an ex-employee. We are very committed to making sure every dollar donated is spent only on (1) purchasing the collection from Bill and (2) any costs associated with storage and archiving, though these will be minimal if we can secure assistance from the library. We are happy to answer any questions about this campaign and the logistics. Email me at nathan.james.robinson@gmail.com
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Campaign ends tomorrow! Remember to come join us at VR tomorrow at 4pm to say goodbye to Bill and the store. BUT WE ALSO have an event tomorrow morning: join us at Burns Court Cinema at 11am for a screening of one of Bill's favorite movies from the VR collection, the delightful British comedy "Keeping Mum"! All are welcome. We will welcome donations but the screening is free to attend and we'd love to have you and everyone you know!

So that's: 11am, Movie Screening of "Keeping Mum," 506 Burns Ct.
4pm: Goodbye to VR, Video Renaissance, 2243 Bee Ridge Rd.

Thank you all so much for your support! Thanks to you we are able to purchase so, so many movies for the public library. Really exciting! We will be updating this page with info about what your donations bought.
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Great news everyone. We've raised over $8,000, all of which will go to buying films for the library. We are already able to purchase an extraordinary batch of films to make permanently available to the public.

Please come and join us to celebrate the end of our fundraiser on SATURDAY the 22nd, at Video Renaissance itself, 2243 Bee Ridge Rd. at 4pm. All are welcome! We're going to talk about the films we've purchased, AND we're going to say goodbye to a 33-year-old Sarasota institution.

More info on facebook:

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Wow! More than $3,500 in less than two days. You are all so incredible. Also: many of you have been asking when our fundraiser ends. Well, we have an announcement: on Saturday, the 22nd, we're going to conclude it with a send-off celebration at the store itself. All are invited!

Info on facebook:

At the event, we'll be showcasing what we've been able to get for the library. If we haven't raised enough for the whole collection, we'll show you what we've got (and it's already going to be a lot of AMAZING material!) This event will also double as a retirement/send-off party for Bill and VR. Come and mingle with generations of store fans as we tell stories, rave over our favorite movies, and show our love for a 33-year-old fixture of the SRQ cultural scene.

We hope to see you there!
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WOW! In our first 24 hours, we have raised $2000. That's a testament to the loyalty and love people have to VR, Bill, and this amazing collection. We have a LONG way still to go though so we need your help: please please tell others you know who love the store OR who just care about film, and encourage them. We do not have much time: the store is being sold off as we speak. So we urgently need to find generous donors.

There's more good news: Damien and I have been having very productive talks with the Sarasota Public Library. They're really pleased about the possibility of receiving this collection and are already trying to figure out the logistics of cataloguing, housing, and circulating everything. In order for that to happen though we still need your help so please, please tell your friends. We can do something truly incredible for the people of Sarasota but the window of opportunity is closing and we've got to have help.
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$9,138 of $40,000 goal

Raised by 199 people in 16 days
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