If J-Sun Bailey had his way, he would buy the Colonial Theatre in Belfast and turn it into a nonprofit corporation.

He is in the process of recruiting other like-minded individuals, researching the pros and cons of nonprofit versus cooperative, and drawing up a business plan all with the idea of moving forward with his dream.

Bailey worked at the Railroad Square Theater in Waterville for about 10 years. He rose up through the ranks to projectionist and assisted the theater with its digital projector conversion.

"Having a computer background helped because that's what projectors are nowadays, just big computers," Bailey said.

He moved to the Belfast area last April and soon after noticed the "For Sale" sign on the theater one night while at the movies.

After seeing the original price tag of $1.7 million, Bailey wondered, "Is there some way we can make this work with a community group or nonprofit?"

According to Bailey, "The advantage of being a nonprofit is you are eligible for grants."

Organizations that qualify as public charities are eligible for federal exemption from taxes according to grantspace.org. Also, creditors and courts are limited to the assets of the nonprofit organization. The founders, directors, members and employees are not personally liable for the nonprofit’s debts.

Colonial owner Michael Hurley was receptive and provided Bailey with the theater's mailing list to get information out to prospective members. He has also agreed to display, on-screen at the Colonial, information on upcoming meetings.

The initial meeting to discuss the viability for nonprofit was held at Bay Wrap in Belfast last October. About 20 or so people showed up and "things kind of fizzled a bit since then with the holidays," Bailey said. "We're picking things up now with monthly meetings at Troy Howard Middle School."

The group's next action steps will be to come up with a steering committee to help with developing a business plan and look at the financial options, according to Bailey. Some thoughts right now are how to proceed and the best way to raise capital — through fundraising or a business loan.

Bailey says the group would like to recruit more people and says they have no timeline but would like to do something sooner rather than later.

What would be in store for a Colonial Theatre as a nonprofit?

Bailey would like to keep much of the same programming Hurley has now. Blockbusters, children's movies and the occasional independent film would all still be the theater's mainstay.

He envisions the building being used more as a multi-use community space where groups or organizations could rent the theater for meetings or events. He also would like to see theatrical productions, comedy improv and musical concerts become part of the line-up.

Updating to modern seats and perhaps partnering with solar installers to provide solar panels on the roof would be beneficial, Bailey said.

He would also like to make the theater as a destination for people to go out; perhaps team up with local restaurants and offer a dinner-and-movie event. Bailey would reach out to schools for special student screenings during school hours and to use the building for fundraising.

What is Bailey's motivation?

"It would be great to guarantee the Colonial stays around, on down the line," he said.

The next two Thursday evening meetings will be March 22 and April 26 at Troy Howard Middle School, 173 Lincolnville Ave., from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Anyone interested is encouraged to attend and for more information may contact Bailey at colonialbelfast@gmail.com.