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Film Society of Lincoln Center Turns to Kickstarter For Tech Upgrade

The Film Society is in the middle of a three-year renovation and technology upgrade for the 25th anniversary of the Walter Reade Theater.

The Walter Reade Theater

The Walter Reade Theater in Lincoln Center

Mettie Ostrowski

The Film Society of Lincoln Center is giving its Walter Reade Theater a makeover for its 25th birthday, and is asking New York filmgoers to pitch in via Kickstarter for a tiny portion of the job.

READ MORE: A Conversation with Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach at the Film Society of Lincoln Center

The Film Society began a major three-year renovation and technology upgrade for the theater last year that includes refurbishing its 35mm and 70mm projectors, upgrading from 2K to 4K digital projection, and renovating its concession stand and lobby, and is turning to Kickstarter to raise additional funds that will go toward replacing the theater’s screen.

“We have funding for a number of other big ticket items, but we’re going to Kickstarter for this one specific thing,” said Eugene Hernandez, the Film Society’s Deputy Director. “It’s a great way for us to engage and enlist the support of people who come here for movies every single day.” Replacing the screen and masking that covers it will cost $60,000. The Kickstarter campaign has a $50,000 target, and as of Tuesday had raised roughly $7,000, with 24 days left in the campaign.

Eugene Hernandez and Lesli Klainberg

Eugene Hernandez and Lesli Klainberg


The Film Society shows movies 365 days a year, but will close for renovations between July 4 and Labor Day, and close again during the summer of 2017. One of the benefits of the technological upgrade will be allowing for digital projection of films at the highest possible quality as more and more titles are restored with 4K resolution.

“We’re trying to anticipate technology for the next five and 10 years,” said the Film Society’s Executive Director, Lesli Klainberg. “We have the very best quality exhibition now, but as the technology changes, we’re going to be able to keep up with it.” Excluding physical film prints, the Film Society will eventually receive the titles it exhibits through cloud-based servers, Klainberg added.

READ MORE: The Actualities of Agnès Varda at the Film Society of Lincoln Center

Though most arts and cultural organizations like the Film Society rely on funding from wealthy patrons, it is not uncommon for these institutions to turn to Kickstarter for specific fundraising initiatives. Last year, the Smithsonian Institution raised $719,779 through the crowdfunding site to restore the original spacesuit worn by Neil Armstrong and bring it to a new exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum, while London’s Royal Academy of Arts raised nearly $175,000 to bring Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s tree sculptures from rural china to central London.

Check out the Film Society’s Kickstarter campaign video below.

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