New Paltz residents Howard Sachar and Chuck Silver are planning to build a three-screen art house movie theater in Water Street Market (WSM) in order to draw community members together and develop connections through Theatre Arts.
“We have long dreamed of having a great not-for-profit, community-based, mission-driven art house cinema in the center of the village that would draw people to the commons — to educate, engage and entertain,” Sachar said.
Sachar said he and Silver grew up during a time when art cinemas were gathering points for their communities. Their life-long appreciation for cinema and theater and the impact of The Academy Theater, the New Paltz art house cinema in the 1970s, inspired them to take on this project.
Much like The Academy Theater, Sachar and Silver envisioned Water Street Cinema to become one of the town’s main destinations for evening entertainment and a magnet for social discourse.
“We fondly recall when New Paltz had an art house cinema and after showing, people would talk across tables in the local restaurants and bars about what they had seen and what they thought,” Sachar said. “There has been much technological and social change since that time.”
Though Sachar and Silver have been motivated to complete this project, substantial community support is required, Sachar said. Assistance in funding, planning board approval and shaping the idea are all areas in which community members can get
“I hope that [the theater] will be viewed as valuable and together ways can be found to make it work for everyone,” Sachar said.
According to Sachar, this is the first community project for him and Silver and they are receiving positive feedback from the community. Sachar does, however, acknowledge that “these are the early days” and they may face opposition further down the line.
Walter Marquez, a New Paltz resident and the owner of Antiques Barn in Water Street Market, said he supports the new theater and believes it’s something New Paltz can use.
“Other towns have independent film theaters and we don’t have one, so I think it will be great for New Paltz,” Marquez said.
Water Street Market is an ideal location, Sachar said. He believes the theater will be able to blend into the area and make New Paltz a more socially and culturally enriched community.
“Water Street Market is in the Gateway District,” Sachar said. “We are conscious of the need to maintain a good balance between what is cherished and makes the town unique, and bringing new vitalizing forces to the area.”
Marquez believes Water Street Market was chosen as the location because of the available property space and it being a central gathering place for the community.
“[Water Street Market] is downtown. It’s the hub of the village and traffic certainty will be good here,” Marquez said.
The theater will show educational independent and world cinemas, as well as live performances which will be available at affordable prices, Sachar said.
The theater is expected to open in the fall of 2013.
“There is no question that the theater will have an impact on the village,” Sachar said. “However, we believe that there is a persistent desire for a place where strangers sit together in the dark and share an experience. [We believe] that we can help create such a place here.”