Did you know that Akron is one of the largest cities in America without a cinema for independent and foreign films?
I didn’t, until I read this not-so-fun fact on Akron Film+Pixel’s Kickstarter page. And guess what? The cinema is coming.
Akron Film+Pixel, which evolved from the Akron Film Festival and became a nonprofit in 2007, is building a single-screen movie theater for the community. Since 2008, the organization has produced more than 130 events by partnering with local organizations, like the Akron Art Museum and Summit Artspace.
With a start-up budget of $160,000, the nonprofit received a transformative grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to get going, but they still needed $12,000 to “push them over the top.” They opened up the Kickstarter page with donation dates from April 16 through May 16, but the goal was reached in just a few days.
“It’s great teamwork,” said Steve Felix, executive director of Akron Film+Pixel. “The Kickstarter was about the details- getting everything right and on the right foot.”
Community members could donate any amount, but at certain levels, they could receive incentives such as free cinema, gala and opening night tickets or food concession items.
The funds donated by the public will help provide the cafe and box office equipment and furnishings such as glasses, tables and chairs. The concession stand will offer classic snacks such as popcorn and soda, but will also feature local beer, wine, coffee, pastries and much more from local places like Hoppin’ Frog Brewery, The Blue Door and Cupcake Binge.
The Nightlight, the future name of the cinema, came to life when members thought of ways to best grow the nonprofit.
“We had an annual festival but it was so close to the Cleveland International Film festival, so we thought of more things people could do on impulse on a random weekday night,” said Felix. “It’s a year-round impact.”
Felix got involved with Akron Film+Pixel because he was looking for a community, and he hopes that this cinema will also bring a sense of belonging for others while creating a lasting impact.
The end goal is for the cinema to be a comfortable place to view first-run films. Each film will typically run 1 to 2 weeks. The theater will have a projector screen and 8-speaker sound system. Events won’t stop at the Akron Art Museum, but people can come out nightly to view the films, and the nonprofit also hopes to have Q&As with film directors.
The Nightlight will be at 30 N. High Street in downtown Akron’s Historic Arts District and it’s set to open summer 2014.
“I’ll commit to that,” Felix said.
Since they have surpassed the goal of $12,000, Felix said the group can get off to “a good start,” and the members can focus on adding accessibility for the cinema to help those who are hearing impaired or in wheelchairs.
“We want this to be a comfortable experience for all,” he said. “These additional funds will help give us a stable footing so we can be here for many years.”
For more information about the cinema and to donate, visit https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/469246077/the-nightlight-cinema.