Amherst Cinema looking at reopening in late September

Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 21, 2020

AMHERST — The Amherst Cinema, closed since March 13, plans to reopen in late September with revamped facilities and new safety protocols in place to protect patrons and staff from COVID-19.

The exact reopening date is not yet set. But interim Executive Director Holly Greeley says she and other staff are confident they’ll have a system in place to ensure the safety of moviegoers, though they say they’ll also continue to monitor public health data to make sure they can proceed as planned.

“We can’t wait to welcome patrons back to Amherst Cinema. We’ve really missed being together with our community,” Greely said in a statement. 

“But our first priority is staff and customer safety,” she added, “so we’re taking extra time before reopening to assess our procedures, update our facility, and train staff on best practices.”

The cinema’s reopening will be built in part around renovations to its lobby and to seating in three of its theaters, with the changes designed to improve accessibility and enhance social distancing measures, and to “simplify the customer experience,” Greely said.

The work, to take place this summer, will be funded in part by a $90,000 Cultural Facilities Fund matching grant from the Mass Cultural Council and Mass Development.

The moviehouse will launch a fundraising campaign for the matching $90,000, and donors will have the opportunity to name seats with customer plaques, Greely said.

Since late March, Amherst Cinema has been making a wide range of films available for home streaming through its website (amherstcinema.org) — films that had originally been scheduled to screen at the cinema — to keep some revenue coming in. Other online content has included Q&As, seminars, and panel discussions with filmmakers and film subjects.

Greely, the cinema’s business manager, became interim director in May after longtime founding Executive Director Carol Johnson retired.

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at spfarrer@gazettenet.com.