Brattle Theatre in Danger of Closing?

posted by Ron Newman on October 10, 2005 at 1:20 pm

Cambridge, MA — The Brattle Theatre has brought repertory film programming to Cambridge’s Harvard Square for 52 years, but if they don’t raise $400,000 by the end of this year, they may close.

Here’s a long press release from the Brattle, explaining their predicament:

Repertory film programming at the Brattle simply cannot survive without significant community support. Our current challenges can only be overcome with the involvement of community members who want to keep the tradition of film programming alive at the Brattle Theatre.

The Brattle has experienced the same drop in attendance that has been plaguing cinemas over the past several years. Operating costs – including film rental and facilities management – have increased by 30%. Government, corporate, and foundation funding for cultural organizations have diminished. Furthermore, BFF and the Brattle are feeling the pinch of the changes in Harvard Square’s make-up. As Harvard mainstays like Wordsworth Bookstore, Brine’s and HMV close their doors, the Brattle’s surroundings have lost much of their draw as a vibrant, independent destination. Empty storefronts lead to a decrease in foot traffic, which leads to a decrease in ticket sales."

Just as a ballet company or a museum must be subsidized by donations, so must repertory film programming at the Brattle. By definition, ticket sales are an inconsistent and unreliable source of income. Every other independent repertory cinema in the country relies heavily on public and donation support to solidify their budgets.

Comments (3)

devbost on October 10, 2005 at 2:15 pm

I frequented the Brattle from 1996-98 before moving to a different part of Boston and changing jobs, which made it more difficult for me to attend movies there. I then moved California, and after three years there, have recently moved back to Massachusetts and am living on the North Shore.

One of the many things I anticipated about my return to New England was that I would once again be able to occasionally catch a movie at the Brattle. Now I see that the Brattle, like so many historic movie houses of its type, has made its way onto the endangered species list.

You can make a donation at their web site to help them meet their fundraising goal and keep the theater operating. I’m going to be making one soon, and I hope others who love the Brattle (or who just love old movie houses) will join me in doing so. It would be a real shame if this theater faded into history.

James Fisher
James Fisher on January 18, 2006 at 3:02 am


anomie666 on January 19, 2006 at 5:45 pm

I’m part of the fundraising committee for the Brattle and have been working hard to see to it that the Brattle does not have to close.

As of the beginning of 2006, the Brattle has raised $200,000 and has a lease extension of 1 year. In order to be negotiate a long term lease, the Brattle will need to raise $300,000 more this year.

If you are in the Boston area, check out the Brattle webpage for future fundraising events.

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