October 30, 2020
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Blast from the Past/Vision for our Future
by Rene Bouchard

In 2015, I had the extraordinary honor to sit down with my boss and co-founder/co-director of the Cinema Arts Centre, Charlotte Sky for an amazing conversation, joined by our former colleague Raj Tawney. It was the 5th anniversary of naming our annual campaign for our late co-founder Vic Skolnick and I wanted a chance to share our Cinema story with members and patrons in a new way, with a specific focus on the difference between seeing films at home and seeing films in a community space with friends, family, and neighbors. I also wanted a chance for people to get to know Char better and to hear the story of our beginning directly from her. What surprised me most was how much I learned about Char and about our Cinema by spending this time with her, a time that has become one of my favorite memories, as well as an inspiration for moving forward.

It is now the 10th anniversary of naming our campaign for Vic, and while we are presenting a robust selection of virtual programs, we have launched our campaign while our building remains temporarily closed. These are times of unprecedented challenge for the Cinema Arts Centre, for all theaters, for so many of our local businesses, and for everyone.

While Governor Cuomo has just recently allowed theaters to re-open, we have important work to complete in our building before it is the right time for us to do so. Please see our most recent update HERE. All of us are working hard toward our reopening day, making sure the facility is clean and safe, with new carpets, new seats, new touchless payment systems installed, and other important improvements to ensure a healthy environment where we will all be able to gather again in our home-away-from-home.

In my interview with Char, she spoke about another time when the Cinema seemed to be in crisis, when membership and attendance had dipped, and she worried about our future. It was the advent of the VCR. Char said:
"That was a big crisis when the VCRs first appeared. And of course, we knew that people would certainly want to be able to have access to ways that they could watch films at home. But we knew that would be a real downturn for us. And it was a disaster. Our membership, which had been climbing, really declined seriously. And we were thinking, are people going to come back? ... But however, gradually I think people didn’t really want to just be home all the time. They wanted to get out of their houses... So people started coming back and coming out again. It was a revival. I mean we were just stunned. We didn’t know that that would happen. But I think people missed having other people around. I think people missed coming to a place, you know in a way it’s a little bit like an inner sanctum."
So much struck me about this moment with Char. First, to hear her talk about people not wanting to remain housebound certainly has taken on a new relevance today. It's true. People do want to be together in shared spaces to have shared experiences, and we miss those opportunities so much when they are no longer available. Also, it is heartening to know that we have faced crisis before and we have always come through. The advent of the VCR, Netflix, the transition to digital projection - these were all existential moments and in every case, we preserved our independent community cinema - all of us together - because it is important to our lives.

We understand that crisis represents opportunity for change, and when we are changing, it is important we ask ourselves, what do we want to leave behind, and what do we want to keep? What do we want to bring with us? What do we want our future to look like?

Overwhelmingly, again and again, we choose a future where people can be together at the movies.

During our conversation, Char and I touched on the difference between selecting and seeing a film in an isolated way, and seeing a curated film program in our community space.
Rene: Another aspect of coming to see a program at the Cinema is that it’s curated. You’re not flipping through and deciding what you’re going to see. You curated a program. You selected a program. It’s designed. And I think that that’s a really, you know, important aspect, and a lot of people will just come and see something that they’ve never heard of because it’s here. If it’s been selected by you, they know it’s worthwhile so they put themselves in the seat. And I want to talk a little bit about the unique position you’re in as a programmer as it relates to the difference between seeing a film in isolation and seeing a film with an audience.  Because a lot of times, you’re screening films at home by yourself, at your desk, streaming on the computer so you see a film in isolation and then you come and see the same film again with the audience there and I want to hear you talk a little bit about how seeing the film with an audience changes your impressions and your perceptions of that film that you already viewed.

Char: Well, one of the important parts of what I considered my “work” was really to…I hoped it would really make people think more about not only just what they were seeing but how they were affected by it. Did it make a difference in their lives? Did it cause them to be different when they left than when they first came in, and how much was that difference? I always thought that the only way that people could change – things that would make them think about whatever it was that they were experiencing and that therefore would change their state of mind. My thought always was is the Cinema going to be some kind of a force for that? I always felt – and I used to talk to Vic about it – do you think we really made any difference in people’s lives? Do think it really was something that changed their thinking? And I always thought no, it probably didn’t. But then I would get a lot of feedback from audiences that said how much it did change their lives, how much it did make them think about things, how much that experience made a difference...
You can hear our whole unedited conversation HERE. Whether you have been with us since our sheet-on-the-wall days, or are a new member, or haven't yet decided to become a member, I hope you will find something valuable in this conversation with Char that touches on so many important aspects of who we are, where we have been, and where we are going.

We are at the beginning of two critical campaigns right now. These campaigns will support our programs and operations while our facility is closed, and the important work we are doing right now to make sure we reopen as a safer, cleaner, more comfortable environment for you and for all our members and patrons.

Our Vic Skolnick Life of Our Cinema Campaign asks members to make an additional year-end gift, above and beyond membership. Our 10 Years, 10,000 Strong Campaign asks lapsed members and non-member patrons to renew their membership or become members for the first time, in order to help us restore a promise we made to Vic that the Cinema would have a membership of 10,000.

We will get to the other side of these difficult times, and when we get there, we will have with us all the things we worked to keep: community, connections, empathy, understanding, shared experiences, shared values - all the things that live and thrive at the Cinema Arts Centre.

Thank you.
#SupportLocal - Shout Out to Two Local Businesses:

Since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, the Cinema Arts Centre has been shouting out to some of the great local restaurants and local businesses who have supported the Cinema in the past and/or who help to make our community so special. When our local business thrive, we all thrive.

Today, we shout out to:

Ella's! After operating as a summer-long pop-up in Greenlawn, Ella's has a new home on the ground floor of Huntington's Paramount Theater - and their wood fire pizza is amazing! Their menu is loaded with great dishes like maple-glazed baby carrots, baby octopus, wood fired wings, and so much more! They are open for dining and pick-up. Check them out!

This week, we also shout out our friends at Munday's, an iconic part of the Town of Huntington and are huge friends of the Cinema Arts Centre! They are our favorite spot to grab some breakfast with the family on the weekend!
If you're craving some delicious pancakes, a milkshake, a sandwich, or any of their other awesome meals, swing by today! They are open now!
There's Still Time to Sign Up for Our Virtual Halloween Costume Contest for Kids

Saturday, October 31st at 7:00 PM EST

CAC & CHIP’n DIPPED Present - Children’s Virtual Halloween Costume Contest on Zoom!

FREE for Children 12 & under w/ Parent/Guardian RSVP – Zoom link provided in Email Order Confirmation. Click “Buy Tickets” above to sign up! Spaces are limited! - Sign up by 3:00 PM on Halloween to participate!

Special Thanks to Our Sponsors -  CHIP n DIPPED, Lux Blox™, Herrell’s Ice Cream, and Main Street Board Game Cafe!

Kids can have fun and stay safe this Halloween with our virtual costume contest on Zoom!

We love Halloween, and we can’t wait to see all your creative costumes, in a safe virtual setting. Just log in to our Zoom event on Saturday, October 31 at 7pm, and get ready to show off!

Bragging rights and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes will be awarded. Prize packages include items from Chip ‘n Dipped, Lux Blox™, and Herrell’s Ice Cream!

Zoom instructions will be emailed upon registration.
Resource Lists

In order to help support our community during these critical times, we are hosting the following resource lists. These are living documents that will evolve as we continue to learn, grow, and communicate with each other. We invite suggestions and feedback: info@cinemaartscentre.org
The Cinema Arts Centre is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization. The mission of the Cinema Arts Centre is to bring the best in cinematic artistry to Long Island, and use the power of film to expand the awareness and consciousness of our community.
Special Thanks to Our Community Newsletter Sponsor:
Thanks to Our October Program Sponsors:
Thanks to Stuart and Ginger Polisner for their ongoing support of our Real-to-Reel and Creativity Series.

Thanks to Lynn & Jonah Kaufman for their ongoing support of our Making Memories Programs.

When you visit a business that supports the cinema, please let them know how much it means to you.
Major Grant Support
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