Charlotte non-profit moves ahead with plans for community cinema


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Despite the struggles of big box office theaters during the pandemic, a local non-profit is moving ahead with plans for a new arthouse venue in the Queen City.

The folks behind the community cinema project believe people will be eager to take in a show. Right now, the non-profit is focused on meeting its fundraising goals.

“We had three arthouse theaters that all closed within the last two and a half years, so now there’s a big void out there,” says Brad Ritter, President of the Charlotte Film Society.

That void is inspiring grand dreams of turning an empty building on Raleigh Street in northeast Charlotte into a vibrant home for foreign and independent movies.

“Why do we need an independent arthouse cinema? And, it’s simple, because art matters and stories matter,” says program director Jay Morong.

In six months, the non-profit has raised two-thirds of its $150,000 fundraising goal.

“We always knew this was going to be a marathon, not a sprint,” says Ritter.

Demolition has already begun inside the future 3-screen community cinema, which will also host speakers and provide film-based community outreach.

Ritter says they plan to expand programming in the new space. “We want to work with local non-profits, local filmmakers, and film organizations.”

Morong believes once the new venue opens, patrons will come. “People want to get out of their houses. They want to be around other people. They want to share in the things happening in their community with their community.”

Ritter tells FOX 46 there is no rush to get the cinema up and running while current COVD-19 restrictions are in place.

“We’re definitely not going to open until we feel it’s safe. So, we’re going to let the other theaters, the bigger theaters open and we’ll definitely be studying them to see what works and what doesn’t work.”

CFS hopes to roll out the red carpet for filmgoers this fall, at the earliest.

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