Since their founding in 2014, Friends of Greenbelt Theatre (FGT) has held the vision to entertain, connect, and educate. In 2022, we are accomplishing that goal, and so much more!
We are moving BEYOND THE SCREEN by opening our long-awaited Screening Room and Media Arts Literacy Lab at 125 Centerway. This adjacent storefront, now internally connected to Old Greenbelt Theatre’s lobby, will be the only space of its kind in all of Maryland and the larger DMV area.
Dr. Caitlin McGrath, Executive Director, is hard at work fine-tuning the educational plans that will continue FGT’s mission to become a leader in film and media education in the region.
The Screening Room
The Friends of Greenbelt Theatre has converted 125 Centerway into a specialty 40-seat screening room and educational space.
With 40 seats and state-of-the art sound and projection, this 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 takes visitors back in time for a luxe Old Hollywood experience unlike any in the area.
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.
The Media Arts Literacy Lab will allow us to expand our offerings of educational programs in film, film history, and media literacy for children, teens, and adults.
From “Let’s Make a Movie” workshops, where kids collaborate on an experimental film project, to “I Heart Home Movies” film-to-digital conversion workshops, FGT has always strived to bring exceptional and unique educational experiences to our community. The Lab will provide a space where we can continue this goal: offering both free and fee-based workshops, camps, classes, and more for kids, youth, and adults.
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.
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 will 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!