As Winston-Salem’s a/perture cinemas shines a light toward its eighth anniversary, the three-screen independent multiplex has made an organizational transition in which it will now function as a non-profit and philanthropically supported entity.
What does this mean to moviegoers who frequent a/perture? In many ways, it’s business as usual. Same great service. Same great selection of independent and foreign films. Same great downtown destination. Actually, a/perture will have even more to offer under the restructuring.
“Our day-to-day programming will stay the same and we plan to expand on our special-event and community-based programs,” affirms Lawren Desai, executive director of a/perture cinemas (311 W. Fourth St., Winston-Salem). “We have always operated with a mission to be a community-minded and supportive organization since opening, so really that won’t change at all. We’ll just be able to do it better.”
According to Desai, “(this) has been in the thinking stages for a couple of years now and in the planning stages since late 2015. Over 75 percent of art-house cinemas are structured as non-profit organizations so now we are just joining their ranks.”
In an press release issued by a/perture last week, Desai stated: “I am delighted to usher in this new organizational structure for a/perture and truly believe that this is the best and only way forward to ensure a/perture’s continued viability. For almost a decade, a/perture has offered a place for the community to come together, to sit in the dark and watch moving images on our screens, immersed and uninterrupted. This social experience is ultimately what I hope to preserve.”
“The main goal of a/perture is and always has been to promote the art of film in our community,” added Graydon Pleasants, a/perture’s board chair. “This new restructuring will allow us to more closely focus on being a cultural asset to the community and explore stronger partnerships with organizations that believe in our mission.”
The a/perture board, says Desai, has approached this move with “excitement, enthusiasm and commitment to make this work – it has to! Everyone is fully engaged.”
In its new status as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, the cinema will continue to screen art-house films (indies, foreign, documentaries, locally made films, festival presentations, special events) which aren’t likely to be screened anywhere else in the region. A/perture will now have more freedom to expand on its existing special events by offering more event programming, issue-focused series’, educational programming, and guest filmmaker appearances. Just as a/perture is part of the Winston-Salem community, the Winston-Salem community is part of a/perture.
Jason Thiel, the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership’s president, stated: “A/perture cinema is a vital asset to our downtown and the entire community. It has raised the bar in regard to film knowledge and appreciation, and provides a critical entertainment option for our citizens. We have also used it numerous times for public gatherings and important film screenings. We are so fortunate to have this venue in our downtown.”
In addition to this transition, these are busy days at a/perture. With the end-of-year barrage of acclaimed and award-winning independent and foreign fare gunning for Oscar consideration, a/perture has screened – or is currently showing – many of the heavy hitters: Jackie, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight, Elle, A Man Called Ove, Loving, Lion, Nocturnal Animals …
“We can count on this time of year as our busiest, when the award-nominated films fill our screens and there is a lot of attention on end-of-year best-of lists,” says Desai.
Another busy time is right around the corner, as a/perture cinemas will once again be one of the principal screening venues for the annual RiverRun International Film Festival, scheduled March 30-April 9 this year.
“We have a lot of great films and special events to get through between now and then,” Desai says, “but come March 31 we’ll be ready!”
For more information about a/perture cinemas, call 336.722.8148, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the official website.