West Newton Cinema fundraising campaign gets $5.2 million anonymous gift

by | Apr 29, 2024 | Newton Beacon | 0 comments

The West Newton Cinema Foundation has been hard at work trying to save the historic movie theater from possible closure since Mark Development—which bought the property a couple of years ago—agreed to sell the cinema property to the nonprofit group.

The group has to raise $5.6 million by Aug. 10, 2024.

Now, a mysterious benefactor has brought their cause much, much closer to the finish line with an anonymous $5.2 million donation.

“Our Campaign is about expanding access to independent and foreign films, documentaries, and classics which can’t be found at mainstream theaters; it is about recognizing and celebrating film as an art form; and it is about preserving and improving a beloved community space that has been bringing people together for almost 90 years,” Elizabeth Heilig, foundation president, said. “We are beyond thrilled to announce this transformative gift in support of our vision for the future of the Cinema.”

The donation sets $3.2 million toward the purchase of the property and $2 million for matching funds to go with future donations from others. Campaign organizers are hopeful those matching funds will help them raise enough money to meet the August deadline.

“If we can invest in a new West Newton Cinema, it can become the anchor for a new vision of an old neighborhood,” campaign advisor Ty Burr said.

The West Newton Cinema opened in 1937 and plays mainstream, independent and foreign films. The property was sold in 2022 to Mark Development, but the sale included a clause stipulating that if a nonprofit was to be formed intent on buying the cinema to preserve it, the new owner would sell it to them.

That’s when the West Newton Cinema Foundation was born. Organizers plan tobuy the cinema and use it as a community event space in addition to the historic art deco cinema it’s been for nearly 90 years.

“We are incredibly excited by the news of this major gift and hope that the community will rally to provide the additional dollars to unlock the power of the matching grant,” said Robert Korff of Mark Development said. “Transitioning the West Newton Cinema to a non-profit that offers multi-purpose space for community gathering, performances and art of all types not only fills an important need for our city, it could serve to bolster the other businesses in West Newton Square. We remain committed to thoughtful redevelopment of the surrounding properties to advance the shared goal of a vibrant neighborhood.”

The anonymous donation brings the mission to save the cinema much closer to completion than it was last week.

With the $3.2 million gift, if the other $1.2 million is met with $1.2 million to match, that will bring the fundraising total up above $7 million, enough to buy the property and start renovations, Heilig said.

The post West Newton Cinema fundraising campaign gets $5.2 million anonymous gift appeared first on Newton Beacon.


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