By HANNAH SIEVERT
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
Madras Cinema 5 is the only movie theater in Madras and is a central part of the town’s community, according to Madras City Council member Bartt Brick.
“The cinema — like in most small towns — it’s a gathering place,” Brick said.
The pandemic hit the 5-screen theater hard. It had to shut down for several months.
Now it’s operating at 15% of its normal business, according to Nathan Westcott, the cinema’s manager.
“The movie theater business, even if you’re a small theater like us, you’re sort of counting on large quantities of people coming in,” Westcott said. “With all of this going on, large groups of people getting together is discouraged.”
To keep the cinema open, the city council and the Madras Redevelopment Commission will give it $200,000 in grants and loans. The money wouldn’t need to be repaid until after the pandemic is over.
That’s enough money to recover the lost revenue, bring back some staff and keep the theater operating for the next year.
“That gives us the opportunity to get back on our feet,” Westcott said.
In return, the city council asked the theater to play at least one movie in Spanish each day.
“The Latinx community represents almost one-third of our community here in Madras,” Brick said. “We want to make sure they’re well represented and supported.”
Madras City Council and the Redevelopment Commission approved the initiative Tuesday night.
“The help from the city would mean everything,” Westcott said.
This story has been updated to include city council’s decision.