Plaza Cinema and Media Arts Center executive director Catherine Oberg has been heartened at the recent response by the community to match a $50,000 grant from an anonymous donor.
“We’re into Week 1 and so far, we raised $15,000 from the community,” she said, sitting in the shuttered theater. Oberg is hoping patrons and supporters will continue to donate, matching the grant dollar for dollar by Dec. 31. The goal is to raise $100,000.
Funds would help pay for a sophisticated air filtration system, air filters and sound proofing. Fingers crossed, if those items can be obtained, with rooms configured for the filtration system, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
Like maybe spring. “We’re hoping to open the end of February, beginning of March, if the studios don’t push back releasing new films,” she said. “We’re hoping to operate at least at a 50 percent capacity, so that means 34 seats [they have 68].” And there’s staff in the factor and cleaning procedures.
It’s been a tough time for the theater, as with everyone, when the mandate came from New York State to close March 16.
“The total amount of membership tickets is down 83.7 percent, educational programs are down 89.7 percent,” Oberg said of some of the numbers. “We would have up to four screenings on Saturday, three on Sunday,” she said, along with several during the week.
But the demand is still out there; patrons miss their intimate theater with its quality and foreign films, discussions, broadcast operas and educational programs for kids, although movies have been offered virtually on a regular basis and via drive-in movies at the parking lot of the Patchogue Arts Council, thanks to the Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce, The Gateway, as well as collaborations with Suffolk County at Smith Point County Park and Suffolk County Community College, Brentwood-Grant Campus. They’ll be starting up with The Gateway around Thanksgiving.
And let’s not forget about courses for students.
“This last spring, I got phone calls from teachers wanting to know about media literacy,” Oberg said. “They wanted to come to the Plaza.”
Oberg said she’s been receiving checks in the mail (there is also online donation capability). “I’m so grateful. It reminds me when we first opened the cinema 10 years ago,” she said.