Beyond the Screen

Dear Supporters,

When I started Friends of Greenbelt Theatre, I had a vision. I wanted to take this beautiful treasure of a historic cinema and turn it into a hub for film history and film education in Prince George’s County. As you know, the Old Greenbelt Theatre has come a long way since the Friends of Greenbelt Theatre took over operations.

But to truly make good on our mission, we have always had bigger plans.

Today I’m writing to tell you that a lot of our dreams are about to come true! Thanks to the generosity of a few donors and the board of the Old Greenbelt Theatre, we are going “Beyond the Screen” to bring you more movies, more special events, and more workshops.

If you like OGT today, you’re going to love us in a few months. What’s happening? Read on to find out more.

See you at the movies!

Caitlin McGrath
Executive Director
Friends of Greenbelt Theatre

Written Monday, March 18, 2019


How we’re moving “Beyond the Screen”

On April 1, The Friends of Greenbelt Theatre became the leaseholder at 125 Centerway (next door to the theatre) and began converting it into a secondary screening room and workshop space (a project collectively called “Beyond the Screen”) to house more educational programming and workshops, along with providing a space for additional film screenings. The space will also include an all-new History of Greenbelt exhibit, providing the Greenbelt Museum a presence in Roosevelt Center.


What does this mean for the HVAC closure?

The short answer: OGT won’t be going dark! We will be able to screen first-run movies throughout the closure of the main auditorium.

The Old Greenbelt Theatre is owned and maintained by the City of Greenbelt, with the nonprofit Friends of Greenbelt Theatre (FGT) responsible for management of the space. The building’s current HVAC system is over 26 years old (with some components dating back to its original construction in the 1930s).

The City’s Public Works Department has determined that the system requires a full replacement, and has informed FGT that we will be closed for this upgrade starting the first week of June and continuing approximately four months. FGT is using this closure period to install the seats and other auditorium upgrades paid for by our “Save Me a Seat” campaign.

On April 1, Friends of Greenbelt Theatre became the leaseholders of 125 Centerway, and began converting it into a temporary screening room (Pop-up cinema) to be able to continue daily screenings of first-run films. The Pop-up will be a 40-seat microcinema, with a temporary buildout of sound baffling and acoustic paneling to improve sound quality. It won’t be quite the experience of our main auditorium, but will allow our audiences to continue enjoying our great programming uninterrupted during the closure period.

The Pop-up will continue to operate through the 2019/2020 Oscar season so that we can get through the fall and winter movie bonanza with twice the films, twice the Oscar nominees, and twice the special programs. In Spring 2020, we will be closing the Pop-up and fully renovating the space at 125 Centerway into a permanent, state-of-the-art screening room and educational space to be home to our Media Arts Literacy Lab. This project is collectively known as our Beyond the Screen initiative.

Beginning June 1, we highly recommend you pre-purchase tickets for the movies and showtimes you wish to see in the Pop-up. In an auditorium of 363, we rarely sell out. With a Pop-up of 40 seats, selling out will be more likely.

That’s why we’re offering a Special Pop-up Member Deal.On June 1, in honor of the opening of our Pop-up cinema, we’ll be extending the memberships of all current members by four months. During the closure period, members will also get early access to all showtime tickets (about 2 days before the general public).

A 40-seat cinema from a 363-seat auditorium? What does that mean for getting tickets?

Beginning June 1, we highly recommend you pre-purchase tickets for the movies and showtimes you wish to see. In an auditorium of 363, we rarely sell out. With a Pop-up of 40 seats, selling out will be more likely.

That’s why we’re offering a Special Pop-up Member Deal. If you join or renew by June 1, we will add four months to your membership AND you’ll be eligible for our new member benefit: early access to tickets. Members will have access to purchase tickets 2 days before the general public. If you’re waiting to join or renew, now is the time!

Will you be extending memberships due to the closure?

We love our members, and we understand that with the main auditorium closed and only the Pop-up in operation, you will have a lesser experience than the one you’ve come to expect of OGT. Therefore, we will extend all current memberships and memberships purchased by June 1 by four months. In addition, members will get early access to tickets for showtimes in the Pop-up (about 2 days before the general public).

If you aren’t yet a member, now is the time to take advantage of our Special Pop-up Member Deal!

Where do I get my tickets and concessions during the renovation?

The renovations will impact our main auditorium only. Our outer lobby, with our concessions stand, and inner lobby, with the bathrooms, will not be impacted by the renovations. During the renovation, patrons will enter the outer lobby to purchase their tickets and concessions, and then walk over to 125 Centerway to enjoy their movie in the Pop-up.

Which bathrooms do I use?

There is a single-stall, wheelchair accessible bathroom at 125 Centerway that can be used by patrons during movies. Before and after the film, to avoid lines, we recommend you come over to the inner lobby at 129 to use our primary bathrooms.

What will happen to the specialty series?

School’s Out!, Monday Matinees, and Storytime on Screen are the three programs that regularly attract more patrons than we can fit in the 40-seat Pop-up. We are working with the City of Greenbelt and Prince George’s County Memorial Library to identify alternative locations for these series. More information will be shared as we finalize this schedule. Check back here for updates as we get closer to June!

What if I need hearing/visual assistance? Is the Pop-up wheelchair accessible?

We are installing new technology next door that will allow us to continue to provide the same accommodations as exist in our main auditorium with closed captioning and descriptive video service. You’ll continue to request these devices at our concessions stand.

We are working to ensure the Pop-up, as with our main space, is ADA compliant. This involves making some changes to the bathroom, as well as providing space for wheelchairs within the Pop-up seating plan. 

Beyond the Closure

Thanks to two generous donors and contributions from the Friends of Greenbelt Theatre board, we have secured the funding to install “the Pop-up at Old Greenbelt Theatre” in time for our main auditorium renovation beginning on June 1. The Pop-up will continue in operation through Oscar season 2019/2020 so that we can get through the fall and winter movie bonanza with twice the films, twice the Oscar nominees, and twice the special programs. 

In Spring 2020, the Pop-up will be closed in order to do a permanent renovation in 125 Centerway to install a permanent, state-of-the-art screening room and a long-term home for the Media Arts Literacy Lab.

The Screening Room at Old Greenbelt Theatre

Have you ever opened an email from us and been disappointed that we’re holding a first run movie that you’ve already seen for a second (or third) week? Not anymore!

The new Screening Room—featuring 40 seats and state-of-the art sound and projection—will serve as an additional screening space to bring more first-run films, more specialty series, and more community events. Inspired by the Hollywood screening rooms of the 1930s and 1940s, the Screening Room will take visitors back in time for a vintage-feel moviegoing experience unlike any in the area.

We ran the numbers and 75% of OGT screenings have an attendance of less than 40 patrons, so this cinema can easily accommodate most of our screenings. Adding a second screen means there will rarely be a time when we aren’t showing something new!

The Media Arts Literacy Lab

The Media Arts Literacy Lab is a program that will allow us to expand our offerings of educational programs in film and film history for children, teens, and adults. At the moment, the largest obstacle to our educational opportunities is the lack of a space where such workshops, classes, and special projects could be carried out. To achieve this, we need a dedicated space for such programs. A flex seating area outside of the screening room will provide a gathering space for workshop participants during the day and movie-goers at night.

We already offer notable educational programs coordinated with local schools’ curricula for teachers looking to enhance their in-class instruction through arts integration. We have hosted school field trips, given tours to summer camps, granted teachers access to audio-visual opportunities to further student experience, and offered a film-making workshop to children.

In Spring 2018, we held our first-ever two-day AV/RV event which provided free digitization of home movies to the public. Both days were fully booked with multiple transfer stations running simultaneously. We also held our first-ever Let’s Make a Movie! Workshop, engaging children aged six to twelve in a hands-on experience with 35mm film strips to create a collaborative experimental film.

What is the timeline for this project?

  • June 2019: Main auditorium closes. The Pop-up opens!
  • Summer 2019: OGT stays open with the Pop-up and off-site programming.
  • Fall 2019: Main auditorium re-opens, and the Pop-up continues operations.
  • Spring 2020: The Pop-up closes for renovation into permanent Screening Room.

Throughout this time period, we will be working to evaluate options for programming in the Media Arts Literacy Lab, in partnership with Greenbelt MakerSpace and other Greenbelt and Prince George’s County organizations.

I love OGT, and I can’t wait to see you take this to the next level. How can I help?

While we have secured the funding to take over the lease of 125 Centerway and to build out the temporary pop-up theater space to get us through the closure, we need to raise $175,000 to build out the permanent Screening Room and Media Arts Literacy Lab.

We are delighted to announce that we have worked with two anonymous donors who together have pledged $50,000 to MATCH any gifts made to our “Beyond the Screen” campaign. In addition, as with our Save Me a Seat Campaign, Friends of Greenbelt Theatre has been awarded Community Investment Tax Credits (CITC) to support our “Beyond the Screen” project. At this time, we have $25,000 in tax credits to award. Donations of $500 or more are eligible for tax credits.

This means that if you donate $500 or more to this campaign, it will be matched dollar-for-dollar by our anonymous donors, doubling the value of your gift to $1,000. Once you receive your tax credit, your out-of-pocket contribution is only $250. In summary, that makes your $250 gift worth $1,000 to our “Beyond the Screen” campaign. We’re always trying to deliver you a good deal, and this is the best one we’ve come up with yet!