Richard Paradise, founder and director of the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society, has a lot to celebrate this holiday season, after quietly raising more than $750,000 to purchase the Film Center building at Tisbury Market Place.

“I guess this is the biggest Christmas present I’ve ever received,” Mr. Paradise told the Gazette this week, after announcing the news in an email blast.

With a $200,000 matching grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a pre-approved mortgage from Martha’s Vineyard Bank and a long understanding with his landlord, developer Sam Dunn, Mr. Paradise was able to raise the rest through a low-key series of emails and telephone calls to longtime film society supporters.

“It happened pretty quickly after we announced the $200,000 grant,” he said.

“Not counting the… grant, we’ve raised about $575,000,” Mr. Paradise said. “The goal was $550,000.”

Contributions over the goal will cover the remaining costs of purchasing the building, “and maybe one bottle of champagne to celebrate the occasion,” Mr. Paradise said.

“I hope to have a closing date from the bank this week — we’re trying for December 30,” he said.

Purchasing the theatre has been part of the film society’s — and Mr. Dunn’s — long-term plan since the developer first approached him more than 10 years ago, before Tisbury Market Place was completed, Mr. Paradise said.

“He could have simply built office space, but he saw a connection and he saw a collaboration with the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society that he got excited about,” Mr. Paradise said.

The film society first had to seek donations to build and outfit the theatre, which has digital sound and projection systems, comfortable purple seats and a lobby art gallery. Mr. Paradise said that campaign was more of a challenge for the society, which had never had a home of its own.

“It was a lot easier this go-round to raise the money after a nine-and-a-half year track record,” he said. “We have this really well-established institution that provides so much value to the community.”

A list of donors to the campaign is posted at They include a who’s who of Island arts supporters, many of them seasonal residents.

“They want to support something they see as a year-round cultural organization. They want to see it prosper… when they’re not here,” Mr. Paradise said.

About 160 donors took part in the campaign, with contributions of up to $50,000, he said, adding that more than 300 other supporters contribute regularly to the theatre’s upkeep.

The society also has more than 2,000 dues-paying annual members, though that number is down several hundred from pre-pandemic times, Mr. Paradise said.

Attendance has also taken a heavy hit from Covid, he said.

“I would say about 40 per cent of our regular customers in a given year have still not come back to … any theatre.”

But apart from observing masking, cleaning carefully and offering certain screenings for vaccinated moviegoers only, he’s not making other changes, Mr. Paradise said.

“In general, I feel very optimistic that our business model is strong [and] right for the Vineyard. I’m very patient. I can wait, and we will continue to do what we do best, regardless of whether it’s 10 people in the theatre or 100 people. That’s always been my viewpoint. I’m not going to change things.”

With 2022 marking the 10th anniversary of the film center, as well as its first year of ownership, Mr. Paradise promised multiple celebrations.

“We’ll have several parties next year to celebrate,” he said. “It’s been a great journey.”