In Our Opinion...
Ask any number of mature Westchester residents where the Fine Arts Theater is, and nearly all will tell you, “Central Avenue in Scarsdale.” Actually, it’s in Greenburgh, and soon it will be just a fond memory. The Fine Arts Theater, a Westchester institution, a Saturday night gathering place for seniors, better yet, for more mature
audiences, is falling victim to the ‘bottom line.’ Say it isn’t so.
Pass by the theater, any weekend evening and you will quickly realize it’s not for lack of business. Moviegoers, mostly gray-haired, and no-haired, line up, waiting to get in, before each showing. Standing in line, they greet familiar faces, couples they have seen there for years. The fact that, unlike nearly every other movie house in the county, the Fine Arts offers no senior citizen discount doesn’t deter a soul. Most are happy to pay full price to see a film that’s “a cut above” what they usually find in the multi-screen houses. And, that’s been the case for more than three decades.
Not only is it a single screen theater, it plays the same film for several weeks, often months at a time. Even those who are regulars are given to wonder. It’s as though the theater owners want to be sure that every loyal patron gets the chance to see their quality offering. And the care and concern is not limited to management.
The youngsters who sell the tickets and operate the refreshment counter are friendlier than at other theaters. They’ve been there a while, and they relate to each other like family. The whole feeling of the place is “small town,” despite the sophistication of their offerings, as often as not, foreign with titles.
Those who have enjoyed the atmosphere, the comfortableness, especially on wintry Saturday nights, will surely be saddened to show up in a few weeks and discover the darkened marquee, the empty parking lot. The feeling one gets when an old friend passes away will momentarily grip them, and they will move on.
The Fine Arts Theater has finally succumbed to a longstanding reality. The space it occupies is infinitely more valuable in today’s real estate market than the rent its owners could ever afford to pay if the house was packed every night of the week.
Truth be told, it would have closed years ago if one of the partners wasn’t also the landlord. In effect, management has been subsidizing its patrons’ entertainment, underwriting it, as it were. Just how important, after all, is the demise of one movie theater?
We believe, very important. It’s a sign of the times and the environment in which we now live. The Fine Arts, joins the local hardware store that couldn’t compete with Home Depot, the local grocery, and bakery that couldn’t compete with Super Stop n’ Shop, the daily newspapers that can’t compete for speed with on-line
Some might shrug their shoulders and say, “That’s progress.” We are not suggesting that the Wheel of Progress ought to be stilled, or even slowed. Rather, we believe one must recognize that something of quality, something of meaning in our lives, is often sacrificed, lost forever, in the name of progress and profit.