Thanks to increased funding from a variety of sources, Cornell Cinema is now poised to expand its impact on campus.
Along with an anonymous alumni donation of $250,000, the cinema received financial support from the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly and the College of Arts and Sciences. The College agreed to cover the majority of staff salaries as part of a renewable five-year plan.
“Cornell Cinema is of vital importance to education in the College of Arts and Sciences,” Senior Associate Dean Derk Pereboom said, “and this is why the College is enthusiastic about providing funding that will permit very substantial programming going forward.”
Ekarina Winarto grad, president of the GPSA from 2018 to 2019, said that while the assembly still thinks the cinema should seek out alternative, more stable forms of funding, the GPSA wanted to “give them some room and time to wean off of the student activity fee.”
The GPSA will gradually reduce its support of the cinema in the next few years, as part of a plan agreed upon in 2017.
According to Mary Fessenden, cinema director, the new sources of financial support will allow the cinema to pursue other means for advancement without constantly worrying about funding.
“The stability provided by the new funding from the College of Arts and Sciences and our anonymous donor will mean we’ll have more time to devote to programming and collaboration with faculty members,” Fessenden told The Sun in an interview.
The Cinema also introduced a new plan to sell all-access passes starting this fall. The passes, which will cost $10 for graduate and professional students, $20 for undergraduates and $30 for others, allow moviegoers to attend all showings, except for special events.
Fessenden also said the plan is intended to decrease the cinema’s dependency on ticket income from individual movie titles. This should allow the cinema to focus more on educational programming as opposed to commercial, big-name entertainment.
The cinema has been struggling financially since 2017, when the undergraduate Student Assembly decided to cut funding to the cinema, a loss of more than $150,000 to the cinema’s annual budget. The funding from the College of Arts and Sciences, Fessenden said, will ensure that cinema directors are no longer forced to justify the program year after year to the S.A. in order to receive funding.
Support for the College’s plan came from various faculty who wrote letters advocating for the Cinema and its educational contributions to the University. Graduate and undergraduate students also voiced their satisfaction with the increased funding for the program.
Winarto said the cinema provides a “good source of alcohol-free entertainment and can serve as a good opportunity for community building.”
Evan Rabenold ’20, whose musical theatre troupe Anything Goes usually performs its shows in the Cinema, said he is excited about the increased funding and the potential improvements it will bring.
“It allows for us to escape the stresses and work characteristic of college life for a little while,” Rabenold said.