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What Management by the Friends of Greenbelt Theatre would Mean

Old Greenbelt Theatre historic photo
Greenbelt’s City Council is holding the first of three work sessions to consider management of the under-renovation Greenbelt Theatre this Wednesday – whether to turn the theater over to the new nonprofit Friends of Greenbelt Theatre or to contract again with PandG Theaters in D.C.  I can’t attend (a GHI Committee calls) but I hope to make one of the other two required sessions.


I asked Caitlin McGrath (interviewed for this blog story) how things would change if the Friends group (FOGT) were awarded the contract when the theater reopens in 2015. Between the vastly increased programming and the creation of a community of Greenbelt’s dedicated film-lovers, it’s seriously exciting and I can’t wait!  If the future outlined below appeals to you, too, tell our Councilmembers. You can also click here to sign a petition in support of the Friends group.

Mainstream Independent Films: FOGT would continue to bring the kinds of films Greenbelters have come to expect to see at the theater – a mix of new releases of independent, foreign, documentary and art-house Hollywood releases. The only change we could like to make it to change the films more frequently, so that instead keeping a single film for three or four weeks, movie-goers would have a chance to see more new films more often.

Classic Film Series: These series would focus on classic films on a given theme or genre, such as  “1938 at the Old Greenbelt,”  “Movies in Maryland,” or series programmed around a director, such as John Ford, Elia Kazan, Ernst Lubitsch etc.

For Kids: One area of programming that has been absent at the theater is offerings for young families, which means they are seeking their entertainment elsewhere. FOGT wants to reverse this trend by offering weekly children’s matinees on a Saturday morning, as well as special programming for teacher-training days and holidays, and “Baby and Me” screenings to give caregivers the opportunity to see recent films in a baby-friendly atmosphere. “Storyhour on Screen” will give parents and caregivers another venue to bring children during the day.

For Students and Young Adults:  FOGT will partner with both homeschooling groups and local schools to show films in conjunction with their current curriculum, with discussions being led by U.Md faculty or one of our partnering institutions.  Cult classics shown late on Friday nights will also draw a younger crowd, and help facilitate Greenbelt’s status as a viable place for leisure.

For the Deaf Community:  One screening of the first-run film each week will feature open captions, and FOGT has already begun to work with the deaf community to program a “d/Deaf Film Series and Festival.”

Connecting with Greenbelt Pride: We have had discussions with Greenbelt Pride about LGBT film series and a Pride Film Fest, which would likely draw in LGBT groups from local towns and counties, as well.

For Everyone, Education and Outreach: We will hold workshops and classes for all ages ranges, from school children through teens to continuing education for adults. We have spoken with educators from local schools and universities about bringing classes to the theater and offering classes within the theater during the day.

For Volunteers and Members: Membership will entitle members to a discount on tickets and concessions, as well as special benefits like early tickets to special events and members-only events. In addition, Greenbelt has an amazing tradition of volunteerism, and we would love to have film-lovers feel even more part of the theater by volunteering. This could mean helping prepare mailings, distribute leaflets about upcoming series or, tearing tickets or being an usher on movie nights in exchange for free admission, popcorn and a drink!

Reminds me of the “nonprofit film center” that now runs the old Avalon Theater and has everyone talking about it.

Follow Susan Harris:
Susan started blogging about Greenbelt soon after moving here in 2012, and that first blog has grown into this nonprofit community website. She also created and curates the Greenbelt Maryland YouTube channel. In 2021 Susan joined the Board of Directors of Greenbelt Access TV. Retired from garden writing and teaching, she continues to blog at GardenRant.com.

3 Responses

  1. Folami
    | Reply

    As an ASL/English interpreter with many Deaf friends I am most excited about plans to offer films with option captions & a Deaf film festival. I look forward to enjoying such offerings when the theatre re-opens!

  2. Diane
    | Reply

    Sounds good. How do I reach city council?

    • Susan
      | Reply

      Great! The link to council is in the 2nd paragraph above.

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