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A new screen lights up the IMU

BY REBECCA KOONS | APRIL 15, 2010 7:30 AM

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When Molly Golemo became the film director of the Campus Activities Board, the idea of having an official theater space seemed like a distant fantasy.

However, after a bit of Internet research last semester, the UI senior soon realized that the project could become a promising reality. With the plan to overhaul 348 IMU approved, she and fellow students moved forward with the renovation two weeks before spring break.

Gone forever are VHS copies of soon-to-be-released movies, replaced with a digital system. Movies now contain high-quality images via a brand-new projector, complete with surround sound.

“We’ve always had a reputation for showing good films, but the quality just wasn’t great,” Golemo said. “We knew students wanted the boost.”

She was the Campus Activities Board president during the 2008-09 school year, and she stepped down to work as the film director, because she saw the project as where the group was headed.

The theater was seen as a necessary addition to the IMU. Because the Bijou had an established culture of its own, it was the right time to improve the film program, making it more consistent and superior to anything that came before.

The board mainly provided the funding for the undertaking. Nellie Hermanson, an assistant director of student activities and programming in the Office of Student Life, said it is quite rewarding to be able to “ramp up” the programming the activities board is able to provide, “which is a challenge with everyone’s budgets so tight these days.”

Though plenty of new equipment was a necessary expense, Golemo said, the group made every attempt to curb extra costs. Aside from new seating and sound panels that have yet to be installed, the project is more or less complete.

“From painting to furniture, we tried to save money by doing it ourselves,” she said.

The new theater initially screened Twilight: New Moon in early March, which was welcomed by regulars and newcomers alike. With the theater capacity at approximately 130 seats, the weekly movie consistently brings in at least 60 patrons a night at $2 a head.

“[The activities board] isn’t looking to profit from the admission price,” Golemo said. “But we have found through marketing research that by charging a small amount rather than its being free, more people will come because they associate a fee with better quality.”

For the time being, the theater remains solely a second-run theater. With time, however, there may be the chance to open up for a more diverse selection of events, such as meetings, conferences, and other kinds of social programming.

“This is a step in the right direction for [the activities board], to be a better organization,” Golemo said. “Being a senior, it’s really nice to see a change like this happen on my way out. I feel as if I’ve left my mark here.”


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