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The Strand reopens after eight-month closure

The Strand reopens after eight-month closure

By Joe Tomlinson / Sports Editor

The Strand Theatre in Brockport reopened on Oct. 30 after closing indefinitely back on March 16. 

The Strand is one of the major attractions on Main Street, providing big screen entertainment to the Brockport area for 25 years. 

The last eight months of the coronavirus pandemic posed significant challenges to the American public, particularly businesses reliant on ticketing and mass public gatherings. For movie theatres in particular, resuming business operations and getting back to normal has been uniquely difficult.  

Small independent theatres specifically have fewer resources at their disposal than national chains, increasing the likelihood of bankruptcy or financial ruin. Across the country historic theatres integral to their communities – like The Strand – are sustaining devastating financial losses. 

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The Strand’s lobby has a small concession stand behind the ticket booth. (Photo credit: Joe Tomlinson)

In a letter addressed to Congress on Sept. 30, the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) warned representatives that theatres may not endure the pandemic if they are not given support.  

Ninety-three percent of movie theater companies had over 75% in losses in the second quarter of 2020,” the letter claimed. “If the status quo continues, 69% of small and mid-sized movie theater companies will be forced to file for bankruptcy or to close permanently, and 66 percent of theater jobs will be lost.” 

After declaring a state disaster emergency for the entirety of New York on March 7, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a supplementary executive order on March 16, stating that, “any gym, fitness centers or classes, and movie theaters shall also cease operation effective at 8 pm on March 16, 2020 until further notice.” 

The Strand announced a response later that day, posting on its Facebook page that the theatre would not be open for the foreseeable future. Yet, the post remained hopeful for an eventual reopening, stating that “the show will go on.”  

On June 3, The Strand announced on Facebook that they tentatively planned to open by mid-July in time for blockbuster releases like “Tenent” and Disney’s “Mulan.” But, the restrictions in New York were not dissolved by that time and theatre was unable to resume operations.  

For the next seven months, employees, owners and loyal customers of The Strand eagerly waited for restrictions to be lifted and business to restart. In the meantime, the theatre joined CinemaSafe, a program created by NATO in order to mobilize over 300 movie chains to prioritize the health and safety of moviegoers through effective guidelines.  

On Saturday, Oct. 3, the president of Rochester Theatre Management and owner of four theatres including The Strand, Jason Yanz, launched a GoFundMe campaign. To date, 120 people have donated on behalf of the historic theatre and the fund has raised over $6,000.  

The Strand announced on Oct. 18 they would finally be reopening on Friday, Oct. 23, at 25% seating capacity. However, the plan to reopen was pushed back once again due to logistical and staff issues. Forcing the people at The Strand, such as longtime manager Jennifer Countryman, to once again play the waiting game. 

The Strand put out a Facebook post letting its clientele know that its reopening was pushed back on Oct. 23. (Photo credit: @CauriePutnam via Twitter)

“We wanted to make sure that we had all of the hand sanitizer stations and all that up and running,” Countryman said. “Also, we lost all of our employees, so pretty much the governor gave us a week’s notice, we had to find someone to work within a week. I’ve always managed The Strand, I’ve been out of a job for seven months. So today is my first day back, the girl that actually worked tonight it’s her first day back, but I lost everybody else down to the cleaning crew.” 

Countryman and the rest of the people at The Strand as well as the Brockport community are all glad to have the movies back. At its official reopening on Friday Oct. 30, The Strand showcased two films at two different afternoon and evening showtimes. The movie lineup through Sunday, Nov. 1 consists of “The War with Grandpa” and the more Halloween appropriate “Come Play.”  

Check out The Strand website for future movie lineups and showtimes as well as online ticket purchasing. 

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