The College of Arts and Sciences will provide Cornell Cinema with funding for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, according to cinema director Mary Fessenden.
Last semester, the Student Assembly’s decision to defund Cornell Cinema was met with student protest and resulted in an estimated funding gap of $150,000, which cast doubt on the institution’s ability to survive.
However, prior to S.A.’s official decision to cut funding, Provost Michael Kotlikoff promised between $36,000 to $40,000 to the cinema for the next fiscal year.
Fessenden, who expressed uncertainty in January that the money Kotlikoff mentioned would materialize, confirmed to The Sun on Saturday that the funding would come as part of a larger bridge funding package.
“Cornell Cinema recently learned that the College of Arts & Sciences will find bridge funding for the next academic year so as to provide the needed time for Cornell Cinema to fundraise, identify other potential co-sponsors for the program, and restructure for the future,” Fessenden said.
According to Fessenden, the bridge funding will be in place for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2018 and ending on June 30, 2019. Cornell Cinema would need to have a new plan in place before budgeting for the 2019-20 fiscal year begins, Fessenden said.
That announcement relieves some of the pressure from the budget shortfall following the decision to reduce student activity fees contributing to the cinema from $10.90 to $0.
In response to the Student Assembly’s decision, the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly voted to increase its funding of the cinema from $10.54 to $11 per graduate student, but that bump would not be enough to cover the loss from undergraduate contributions, which was nearly 30 percent of total revenue.
Though bridge funding will take some of the pressure off of the cinema in the short term, the underlying issues that lead to the funding dispute, including staff wages, are as yet unsolved.
Gabe Kaufman ’18, S.A. vice president of finance and chair of the appropriations committee, said in January, “it’s really the staff wages that are the most problematic.”
Staff wages account for about 70 percent of the cinema’s expenditures, according to the office of the provost.
According to Kotlikoff, the arts college and Student and Campus Life are currently working closely with the cinema on a new “staffing and funding plan” and that the administration is “committed to providing the [$36,000 to $40,000].”
Cornell Cinema will host its own campaign during Giving Day this Tuesday, which will accept contributions online for a 24-hour period and factor into the cinema’s future budgetary plans.
“We hope all our supporters, including current students and alums, will consider making a donation to Cornell Cinema on Giving Day as part of these efforts to maintain one of the University’s most valuable and beloved cultural resources,” Fessenden said.