Beyond the Screen

Opened in 1938, the Old Greenbelt Theatre was cooperatively owned by the first residents of Greenbelt. The theater began its life as a hub of community life in this New Deal town. 

But by 2013, the theater stood as an under-utilized relic, crumbling and in dire need of repair, showing fewer than 27 films per year.

In 2014, everything changed! The City of Greenbelt invested in a major renovation, completely overhauling the inner and outer lobby, installing a new concessions counter, and restoring Old Greenbelt Theatre to its original beauty.

In 2015, the Friends of Greenbelt Theatre were chosen by the City of Greenbelt to operate the theater, and the theater is once again thriving. Friends of Greenbelt Theatre (FGT) hosts over 220 programs each year, many free of charge, and collaborates whenever possible with other local organizations to bring the best, most relevant programming to the community. FGT presents a carefully-curated selection of first-run movies, art-house films, informative Q&As, and even live music events. Most recently, FGT invested in a massive renovation of the theater’s main auditorium, completing the work begun by the City of Greenbelt in 2014.

FGT has set a mission to be a hub for both film and film education in Prince George’s County. While we have exceeded our original expectations in becoming a booming attraction for film, we have not yet fully realized all of our educational goals. This is because Old Greenbelt Theatre’s current location lacks a dedicated space where we can truly do educational programming.



FGT has a long-term lease for the storefront next door to the Old Greenbelt Theatre at 125 Centerway and has a bold vision to convert the space into a permanent Screening Room and Media Arts Literacy Lab. This will be the only space of its kind in all of Maryland and the larger DMV area, and through it, FGT will become a leader in education in film and film history in the region.

Through this Beyond the Screen Initiative, we aim to: 

  • Bring increased financial stability to the organization
  • Increase our ability to carry out film education programs
  • Further contribute to the historic preservation of Greenbelt
  • Enhance the reach of other Greenbelt-based nonprofits
  • Further grow our children’s programming

The Plan: The Screening Room

The Friends of Greenbelt Theatre will convert 125 Centerway into a specialty 40-seat screening room and educational space.

Screening Room demo logo

More information

With 40 seats and state-of-the art sound and projection, the second screen will have two main functions: by day as the Media Arts Literacy Lab, allowing us to expand our field trip and workshop offerings for local school children; and by night, as an additional screening space to bring more first-run films, more specialty series, more community events, and more opportunities for private rentals.

Inspired by studio screening rooms of the 1930s and 1940s, our Screening Room will take visitors back in time for a luxe Old Hollywood experience unlike any in the area.

The Plan: The Media Arts Literacy Lab

Designed in concert with the micro-cinema, this shared educational space will become the home of OGT’s Media Arts Literacy Lab and educational programming.

More information

The Media Arts Literacy Lab is a program that will allow us to expand our offerings of educational programs in film, film history, and media literacy for children, teens, and adults. At the moment, the largest obstacle to our educational opportunities is the lack of a space where such projects could be carried out on a regular basis. The buildout of the Media Arts Literacy Lab is key to FGT’s ability to deliver more robust educational programming and opportunities.

The Media Arts Literacy Lab is a space where we can offer both free and fee-based workshops, camps, classes, and more for kids, youth, and adults. In the past we’ve done programming such as “Let’s Make a Movie” workshop where kids drew on old film strips to make a new, collaborative film. We’ve also done “I Heart Home Movies” workshops to convert home videos on film to digital to preserve family memories and history, and render such videos easily shareable among family members. These are two examples of programs that would come under the banner of our Media Arts Literacy Lab once built.

The Plan: Community Partnerships

Rising tides lift all boats, and FGT hopes this new project will further not just our mission but other organizations in the area.

A home for the Greenbelt Museum within the Roosevelt Center

Greenbelt has a gem of a historical institution in the Greenbelt Museum, but its location is outside the well-traversed square of the Roosevelt Center. Building on this rich history of Greenbelt and its founding, this space will offer a timeline wall curated by the Greenbelt Museum, where visitors can learn more about the founding and growth of the unique community of Greenbelt, all within Roosevelt Center, thereby making Greenbelt history more accessible to visitors and residents.

Greenbelt MakerSpace @ OGT

With FGT managing the space, we provide the popular Greenbelt MakerSpace with a space for programming without the significant financial burden. Where our missions align, their programs share space with ours so that they can still provide their popular programs like Repair Café, Little Makers, and more.

What Does the Beyond the Screen Initiative Really Mean for OGT?

Ensuring long-term financial stability

Relative to similar art house cinemas in the nationwide Art House Convergence, OGT is overperforming, earning nearly 25% more than the average single-screen cinema. However, we’re still operating on a razor-thin profit margin because of the staffing it takes for FGT to provide the high-quality programming our patrons love, appreciate, and expect. Nationwide data show that adding a second screen to a single-screen operation grows revenues by over 100%. Full completion of this project could, therefore, double FGT’s revenues, while requiring little increase in staffing and administrative costs.

With a second screening area and a dedicated space for the Media Arts Literacy Lab: 

  • Fee-based classes will become a revenue generation option. Given space constraints, we don’t currently have the ability to offer classes that would be of a quality where a fee would be reasonable. This new space opens up that option.
  • We could offer lower rental fees for the second screening area, which will open us up to more rental revenue, both by offering a second space for rentals and by providing a lower-priced option.
  • Long term, this secondary area will allow us to run a larger profit margin, which will allow us to build up a significant reserve fund to ensure the long-term viability of this organization.
  • In general, by diversifying FGT’s revenue streams, we render the organization (and the theater) more financially stable and able to weather the slower movie-going seasons.
  • A second screening space will allow us to increase the number of films shown at OGT by at least 50%.
  • We will have the ability to get new release films sooner, which will allow us to more easily compete with other arthouse theaters in the area (like E Street Cinema and Bethesda Row).
  • A second screen also increases the number of specialty events and series we can offer, both in terms of having the space for these events and also in additional revenue to support the cost of such specialty programming.
Enhancing Historic Preservation in Greenbelt
  • The installation of a vintage-style screening room, like the classic Hollywood screening rooms, will add to the historic feel of the theater and the Roosevelt Center at large.
  • The lobby area and store-front of this new space will include interactive exhibits and displays designed in collaboration with the Greenbelt Museum, giving Greenbelt history a home within the Roosevelt Center.
  • The Friends of Greenbelt Theatre will also display information on film and movie-going throughout history, with a specific eye to preserving the history of Maryland movie history.
Growing OGT Kids Programming
  • Dedicated space for educational opportunities for kids of all ages.
  • Homeschooling programs to supplement their curriculum in any subject.
  • Field trips for local school children to learn more about film and Greenbelt.
  • Workshops focused on hands-on making with 35mm and 16mm film.
  • Camps to provide week-long deeper dives into media making of all sorts.

The Beyond the Screen Initiative will allow the Friends of Greenbelt Theatre will take its mission to be the center for film culture and education in Prince George’s County to new heights!

Beyond the Screen Initiative: Donor Match and Tax Credit

We must raise $250,000 to make our Beyond the Screen Initiative a reality.

Thanks to the Maryland Historic Trust and two generous donors, we secured $125,000 in funding before the campaign even started. Therefore, we only need $125,000 from our larger community to make this vision a reality.

We also have State of Maryland Community Investment Tax Credits* available for gifts of $500 or more.

Any Maryland resident or business who gives $500 or more to this campaign is eligible to receive a tax credit of up to 50% of the value of the donation to offset owed Maryland state taxes.

Tax credits are available for the 2019 and 2020 tax years and will be dispersed on a first-pledged, first-served basis. You can pledge to donate in both years to receive tax credits in 2019 and 2020 with donations of at least $500 in each year.

*Maryland’s Community Investment Tax Credit (CITC) program, run by the Department of Housing and Community Development, gives Maryland taxpayers incentives to make significant gifts to selected nonprofits.


I love OGT, and I want to help! What do I do now?

Here are your next steps to supporting our Beyond the Screen Initiative:

  • Contact Kelly McLaughlin at or 301-329-2034 to pledge your support and/or to receive more information about the Initiative.
  • Fill out CITC paperwork (provided to you once we receive your pledge). CITC paperwork MUST be completed before your donation is received.
  • Make your donation. Checks preferred; credit card donations will incur a 3% processing fee.
  • FGT staff will process your CITC application; Certification of Contribution letter will be sent to you by the State of Maryland upon DHCD approval (can take 1-2 months).
  • Provide DHCD letter to your accountant/tax preparer for use on your 2019 MD State taxes.
  • In addition, you can claim the amount of our original donation on both your federal and Maryland income tax returns to the extent allowed by law.
Giving Levels & Benefits

Production Designer – $5,000

  • Program a specialty series hosted in the screening room
  • Invitation to pre-opening tour
  • Eligibility for MD CITC tax credits
  • Name on plaque installed in new area
  • Name on campaign website

Screenwriter – $2,500

  • Ability to select film for first specialty series hosted in the screening room
  • Invitation to pre-opening tour
  • Eligibility for MD CITC tax credits
  • Name on plaque installed in new area
  • Name on campaign website

Cinematographer – $1,000

  • Invitation to pre-opening tour
  • Eligibility for MD CITC tax credits
  • Name on plaque installed in new area
  • Name on campaign website

Sound Mixer – $500

  • Eligibility for MD CITC tax credits
  • Name on plaque installed in new area
  • Name on campaign website

Gaffers & Grips – $100

  • Name on campaign website