Last week, Cornell Cinema was unable to secure the number of votes needed from the Student Assembly to raise the amount of byline funding the organizations receives each year. The vote follows a recommendation from the Student Assembly Appropriations Committee that urged the S.A. not increase the Cinema’s funding. While the committee suggested that Cornell Cinema further reduce its costs, additional cuts adversely affect the programming and benefits the organization provides for the campus community. We urge the members of the S.A. to reconsider their decisions to ensure the vitality of Cornell Cinema for future Cornellians.
In its recommendation, the Appropriations Committee argued that Cornell Cinema should not be granted an additional $1.40 per student increase, raising its byline funding amount from its current $10.60 to $12 per student. Yet while Cornell Cinema has continuously reduced its costs since having its budget cut in 2009, the costs of running a theater have increased. As movie studios across the country also face higher costs and lower revenues, they are seeking new ways to increase revenue through film rental costs, as outlined in Cornell Cinema’s funding proposal. Additionally, the minimum wage in New York State will rise to $9.00 per hour in 2016, which will provide an extra cost for the already cash-strapped theater. These increased costs, in addition to fewer grants and reduced contributions from the College of Arts and Sciences, will force Cornell Cinema to make additional cuts that would prove detrimental to its programming and the cultural benefit the theater brings to Cornellians and Ithacans alike.
Cornell Cinema, which is experiencing increased undergraduate attendance, also provides additional late-night opportunities for students seeking alcohol-free alternatives. Keeping the current level of funding will likely result in fewer showtimes throughout the academic year (Cornell Cinema already reduced its Summer Sessions showings), providing Cornellians with fewer options for inexpensive stress relief. With the S.A.-sponsored Mental Health Awareness Week beginning later this week, we find it hypocritical for representatives to vote against supporting an entertainment venue that can help to reduce stress among Cornellians across campus.
After the Student Assembly voted to slash Cornell Cinema’s budget in 2009, a full page of The Sun’s Arts and Entertainment section read “S.A. BETRAYS CULTURE. LONG LIVE CORNELL CINEMA!” We continue to stand behind the Cinema for all it provides the Cornell community. To maintain the diversity of programming and the benefits that additional late night programming provides for students’ well-being, the S.A. must vote on Thursday to support Cornell Cinema through increased byline funding.