Cinema Arts Centre
423 Park Avenue,
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Physically, the Cinema Arts Centre occupies space carved out of a surplus school building; the entrance and interior architecture are fine within those very severe limitations. The town’s senior citizens lunch program occupies adjacent space.
Culturally and politically, the cinema has been at or near the center of life on Long Island for all its thirty years. For the thousands of ageing hippies that haunt the highways and by-ways of Long Island’s suburban sprawl, the cinema provides a desperately-needed focus and a sense of belonging. Its co-founders are an obsessed, driven, universally-beloved couple named Vic Skolnick and Charlotte Sky, who started out with a small projector and a bedsheet tacked to the wall of a food co-op, advising audiences to bring cushions to sit on. They’ve miraculously managed to turn their funky non-profit operation into a huge, slick, prestigious and even rather glamorous enterprise, with Isabella Rosselini hosting gala benefit parties, without losing any of their original sense of mission and community. While first-run films bring in income, the other screens (and videos) feature African film festivals, leftist documentaries, and off-beat experiments by unknowns. Their son Dylan runs a cinema-within-a-cinema with his long-running series of horror flicks, ensuring that aging Generation-Xers are also part of the clientele.
The New Community Cinema occupied two or three other locations before convincing the town to let them into the present school building. An unsoilicited million-dollar gift in 1990 allowed for renovation and expansion, at which point they started calling themselves the Cinema Arts Centre.
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