At this time last year, we were facing a lot of uncertainty. With independent cinemas closing permanently all across the country and with our theater facing a four month renovation of our only screening space, we really weren’t sure how we’d keep our organization going. We explored all kinds of avenues to continue our operations, and in the end, we were presented with an incredible opportunity: we leased the storefront next door to the theater.
To weather our renovation, we installed a temporary Pop-up cinema, but we knew the future of this historic cinema was on the line. We could take this opportunity to not only get through our renovation, but grow the Old Greenbelt Theatre into a two-screen cinema, ensuring OGT’s long-term survival.
In November of 2019, the Friends of Greenbelt Theatre publicly launched our Beyond the Screen Initiative, aiming to raise $250,000 to fund the buildout of a permanent Screening Room and Media Arts Literacy Lab at 125 Centerway.
We are delighted to announce that we have met our goal thanks to the generous support of many in our community.
Now that we have secured the funds to build this secondary screening space and a one-of-a-kind Media Arts Literacy Lab, we’re moving straight on to the construction period. This marks an exciting new phase in the life of the Old Greenbelt Theatre, and we want to be clear with our community about what comes next. Read on to learn more.
What’s the buildout timeline?
We are working with our architect, Harry Ross from Field Craft Studios, to create a final timeline for the buildout. Tentatively we plan to close the Pop-up in mid-February. The contractor has told us that they believe it will be roughly a 10-week buildout, but as our renovation last summer taught us, no construction timeline is certain until the job’s done. We hope to have the Screening Room finished sometime in June, and plan to do a soft open as early in the year as we are able. Programming for the Media Arts Literacy Lab will come later in the year.
What are the plans for the Screening Room?
Our Screening Room will feature the state-of-the-art projection and sound you’ve already experienced in the Pop-up, but with sound-proofed walls and other features to ensure there is no light or sound leakage; this will ensure an excellent audio and visual experience. The screen will get bigger, and we will install true theater seats (set on risers) to make the viewing experience considerably more comfortable than the Pop-up. We’re confident that when the buildout is complete you’ll love our Screening Room as much as you love our Main Auditorium.
What are the plans for the Media Arts Literacy Lab (The Lab)?
When the buildout is complete, we’re going to spend the rest of the summer getting comfortable with operations on two screens. In the fall, we will offer a sampler of the curriculum we’re considering for The Lab space. You can come in, try a few classes, and tell us what you think! This will help inform the development of a more robust education program in 2021. The Lab will feature varied programming for kids, teens, and adults; from one-off workshops to multi-week classes.
How else can I help?
If you’d like to be more involved as we take FGT’s mission to the next level, here are some options:
- Become a member. Becoming a member helps show us that you believe in the value of a nonprofit, arthouse cinema.
- Donate to our Beyond the Screen Initiative. While we’ve raised the funds to begin construction next door, we need additional support to begin building our educational programming.
- Spread the word. This spring, we will be sending volunteers to fairs and festivals all over Prince George’s County to educate the larger community about OGT’s many offerings. This will require a lot of folks excited about our mission. Fill out our volunteer application here.
- Tell us what classes you’re interested in! Complete this three-question form to help us design our fall sample course offerings in The Lab.
Thank you for being a member of the Old Greenbelt Theatre at this exciting time of growth and change.
See you at the movies,
Founder & Executive Director
Friends of Greenbelt Theatre