The Friends of Greenbelt Theatre (FGT), The Greenbelt MakerSpace, and The SPACE (Sharing Positive Artistic & Creative Energies, operated by Shaymar Higgs in Beltway Plaza) are entering into a new partnership. MakerSpace is exploring new programming and space-sharing options with both FGT and The SPACE. Meanwhile, FGT will be renovating 125 Centerway into a screening and workshop space (a project collectively called “Beyond the Screen”) to house more educational programming and workshops, along with providing a space for additional film screenings.
The Greenbelt MakerSpace has been a primarily donation-run non-profit for the past few years, but donations have not been able to sustain the day-to-day operational expenses. The generous contributions of time and resources that founders George Boyce and Eva Fallon provided have been difficult to replicate in their absence.
FGT has long wished to have space for additional screenings, educational workshops, and classes. Upon learning of MakerSpace’s situation, FGT offered to take over the lease of 125 Centerway, making a perfect situation for a new partnership to take shape. As many know, the Old Greenbelt Theatre (OGT) has to close this summer for a full replacement of the HVAC system, as well as the installation of new seats, new drapery and a new screen in the main auditorium. Facing this impending closure, the Friends of Greenbelt Theatre (FGT) has been exploring options for keeping their film programming going and this new project will allow FGT to create a pop-up cinema and Media Arts Literacy Lab as a programming space, that can be used by Greenbelt MakerSpace to continue its programming within the Roosevelt Center.
The Greenbelt MakerSpace board decided unanimously to move forward with this new partnership, and Friends of Greenbelt Theatre will formally become the leaseholder starting April 1 to begin renovations for the pop-up cinema to see the theater through its 4 month anticipated summer HVAC closure. 125 Centerway will be closed for roughly two months, with the goal of reopening June 1, the current expected date of closure of OGT’s main auditorium. Through the auditorium closure, the office, ticket booth, lobby, concessions stand, and bathrooms will remain open at 129 Centerway.
Greenbelt MakerSpace will take advantage of the closure period to restructure their programming schedule and offerings. Once 125 Centerway reopens, Greenbelt MakerSpace will continue to have a presence in Roosevelt Center, offering classes, workshops, and discussions groups in partnership with OGT. Brett Fishburne, President of the Greenbelt MakerSpace, pointed out, “This is a great opportunity for nonprofits to work together and help each other get stronger.”
Long term, the Friends of Greenbelt Theatre plans to install a permanent, vintage-feel screening room and a permanent home for its Media Arts Literacy Lab to house more educational programming and workshops. FGT also will partner with the Greenbelt Museum to add a History of Greenbelt exhibit, providing the Museum with a much-needed presence in Roosevelt Center.
Caitlin McGrath, Executive Director of Friends of Greenbelt Theatre, says of the project, “Friends of Greenbelt Theatre has come a long way since taking over management of the Old Greenbelt Theatre on behalf of the City of Greenbelt, but this ‘Beyond the Screen’ project is a giant leap forward for us in terms of delivery on our mission and also for the long-term sustainability of the organization.” The pop-up cinema will be in place by June 1 so that the theater can continue first-run programming through the HVAC and main auditorium renovation; in 2020, Friends of Greenbelt Theatre intends to fully renovate the space into the permanent screening room and Media Arts Literacy Lab.
Greenbelt MakerSpace is also working with The SPACE: Free Art for All by providing some equipment and supplies for The SPACE and FGT is looking for opportunities to bring some of The SPACE’s programming into both the 129 and 125 Centerway locations, all of which enhances the missions of these three organizations and better serve all residents of Greenbelt. Higgs states, “I’m excited to carry our mission and programs on together and continue the work of uniting all of Greenbelt.”
The Old Greenbelt Theatre, the Greenbelt MakerSpace, and The SPACE are doing what Greenbelters do: we help each other and build a stronger community. The organizations are excited about these changes and look forward to new opportunities each can pursue with this new partnership. More information on each organization’s plans can be found on their websites: greenbelttheatre.org/beyond-the-screen, make125.org/full-calendar, FreeArtForAll.org.