Lights! Camera! Action!: The Campaign to Reopen the Athena Cinema

$13,967
93%
Raised toward our $15,000 Goal
76 Donors
8
days left
Project ends on June 30, at 11:59 PM EDT
Project Owners

Long-time Athena Cinema patrons and supporters are incentivizing giving toward the beloved theater

UPDATE (June 9): Y'all did it again! We set a goal and you helped us quickly surpass it. Thank you! We are so grateful! We set a new goal: $15,000! Every dollar donated will go toward our reopening and continuing to serve our community and bring the finest programming to SE Ohio!

UPDATE (June 4): We’ve reached our campaign goal in 24 hours thanks to your generous support! We are so grateful and due to the overwhelming response, we have decided to raise our goal to $12,500. Every dollar donated will go toward our reopening and continuing to serve our community and bring the finest programming to SE Ohio!

Support the reopening of the iconic “Jewel of Uptown Athens”  

The goal of the Lights! Camera! Action!: The Campaign to Reopen the Athena Cinema is to raise $10,000 in total donations to support the cinema's costs associated with reopening the beloved Court Street theater.

As an incentive, Ann Moneypenny and Michael Kleinman are graciously matching the first $3,000 in gifts to the campaign. Then once their full $3,000 match is met, and an additional $2,000 is raised, a gift of $2,000 from Ann and Michael will be unlocked! “Ann and Michael’s support has been so meaningful—especially in a year when we lost all box office revenue during the normally busy awards season, but also lost all event sponsorships,” says Alex Kamody, director of the Athena Cinema. “They have encouraged us to support programming that is true to our mission. It’s incredibly important that we have the ability to show films that wouldn’t otherwise be seen in this region.”

The theater will be using its Athena Cinema Support Fund to pay for the costs of reopening and bringing back independent film and community arts programming to Southeast Ohio. All gifts to this Lights! Camera! Action! campaign will go toward this fund. The Athena Cinema Support Fund was established by long-time patrons and supporters Moneypenny and Kleinman through the Kleinpenny Education Fund which is committed to funding non-profits that support creativity, critical thinking, sustainability, tolerance and mental health in Athens County.

"The Athena Cinema is dear to my heart. Like the Athens Block bricks on Court St. I can’t imagine our town without its perfect marquee. But inside its the Athena’s community-focused programing that brings college students and local residents together night after night. It’s screening films that commercial theaters never offer, it’s conversations on environmental and social justice issues that grow our shared bonds in this community and of course it is the yearly Athens International Film Festival that makes supporting this venue imperative, a joy and a necessity." — Ann Moneypenny

Double the impact of your gift & more!

  • All gifts up to $3,000 will be matched* 1:1 by Moneypenny and Kleinman. This match will double the impact of your gift: your $50 becomes $100!
  • When the matching dollars are exhausted, the amount raised will be $6,000!
  • Building from this $6,000, only $2,000 is needed from supporters to hit the $8,000 milestone!
  • At this $8,000 mark, Moneypenny and Kleinman will donate an additional $2,000
  • This will bring the total raised to $10,000, meeting the goal of this campaign! ***The goal was met in 24 hours! Thank you for your generous support!
  • Gifts beyond $10,000 will be used to further enhance this beloved theater and landmark.

 

The Athena in January 2021 with the marquee featuring a Haiku by Kristen Early

 

The Athena Cinema: A history of survival and adaptation

The Athena Cinema opened in 1915 and has survived fires, the introduction of home television and the digital conversion from 35mm to digital projection to name a few. In March 2020, like almost all movie theaters, it closed its doors. The closure reflects the longest time in the 105-year-old Athena Cinema’s history that its theaters were dark, and the iconic Court Street venue was shuttered. In February 2020 it boasted multiple sold-out community events including “The MET: Porgy and Bess,” “A Speakeasy Soiree,” which screened a collection of rare silent shorts accompanied by a local live jazz trio, and an unforgettable Science on Screen® event featuring a live talk by groundbreaking scientist and autism activist Dr. Temple Grandin.

Since that closure, the Athena Cinema did what movie theaters have always done: it adapted to the changing world.

With the support of its patrons and community, it launched the Athena Cinema Virtual Cinema which continued to bring critically acclaimed films and independent programming to its patrons, Athens, and well beyond virtually. Several of its stalwart series also pivoted to the Athena’s new online streaming portal including the Science on Screen® Series and the Sustainability Film Series. It fully renovated its historic marquee, a Court Street landmark in and of itself. The Athena Cinema staff worked with Ohio University’s Covid Operations Team to create and approve safety plans over that allowed it to offer its Private Rentals for Your Pod program where families and those quarantining together could rent a theater and enjoy unlimited concessions for an evening of big screen movie watching. It pressed on and hosted its Second Annual Haiku Contest where anyone could submit a Haiku poem that reflected their love of movies. Last week, it announced its first in-person event in more than a year: Science on Screen®: Under the Stars, taking its popular Science on Screen series outdoors to the ballfields at The Ridges in Athens starting June 3.

Despite the challenges that go with the physical space being closed, the Athena staff felt energized by the community’s support and the theater’s history of resilience. It eagerly awaits the reopening of its doors, says Kamody, since nothing replaces the energy of being together in a theater and watching a story unfold.

“We will forever be grateful to our truly supportive patrons who have continued to watch films on our virtual cinema, participated in zoom events, supported us through private rentals and more,” she says. “Yet we miss seeing our patrons! We miss the daily conversations and connections.”

Today the Athena Cinema’s commitment to diversity and increased representation in the film industry guides much of the work it does. Through screening international films, films produced and directed by women, films that reflect LGBTQ allyship, and films that reflect racial and cultural diversity, theaters like the Athena Cinema represent and support community resilience and spirit, Kamody says.

She added, “Movie theaters are a place to come together to share our fears, anxieties, joys and to celebrate creativity."

 

The Athena staff is a great group of individuals committed to offering dynamic film experiences to the Athens and OU communities.

 

*About the 1:1 Match from Moneypenny and Kleinman

As stated above, this match will double the impact of your gift — your $50 will have the impact of $100! Because the match cannot be applied automatically, when you make this $50 gift, the campaign balance will only increase by $50. Several times each week, the Office of Annual Giving will update the Moneypenny and Kleinman Match listing on the Donor Wall which will showcase all donors' gifts (up to $3,000) being doubled.  

Amount remaining for match is $0. (As of 8:46 a.m. on June 4; updated by Jim Harris '04)

Levels
Choose a giving level

$19.15

Soda

A gift in amount in recognition of the opening of the Athena in 1915.

$50

Heirloom Popcorn

Enjoyed by movie-goers at the Athena — especially during the Athens International Film & Video Festival — Shagbark's Heirloom Popcorn has been a staple at the theater since 2011. This $50 gift level is in recognition of two 25 lb. bags of Shagbark popcorn.

$100

Ticket

For over 100 years the Athena has been showing movies on Court Street. This $100 gift level is in recognition of over a century of theater-going in Athens!

$300

Backstage Pass

From 35 mm to digital, the projection booth is where the magic happens. This $300 gift level is in recognition of magic that happens behind the screen to bring the finest in film to Southeast Ohio.

$500

Marquee

The iconic Court Street Marquee has been featured on national news, tweeted by celebrities such as Ian McKellen and celebrated in countless snapshots and memories. It has featured proposals, birthday messages and thousands of movie titles. The $500 level is in recognition of the Athena’s marquee and its place in the history—and future—of Court Street and our community.