Rochester indie-movie venue now operated by WXXI

WXXI in Rochester, N.Y., has acquired a downtown movie house, The Little Theatre, it announced Dec. 19. The art-deco theater, founded in 1929 as part of a “little theatre” movement promoting alternatives to Hollywood’s mass-audience movies, still specializes in indie and foreign films, including anime and docs. In recent decades it was expanded from one to five screens, and to 940 seats, and it became a nonprofit.

“The Little,” as it’s known locally, screens more than 100 films a year and hosts several annual community film festivals. It also houses a 70-seat cafe.

The merger, effective this month, “strengthens WXXI’s roots in the cultural life of the community, while helping to assure the future of Rochester’s independent film house,” said WXXI President Norm Silverstein in a statement. The affiliation will “enable the two organizations to work more efficiently by pooling resources and strengths in a number of areas including back-office operation and improved fundraising capabilities,” WXXI said.

A task force from each organization consulted with the New York Council of Nonprofits on the agreement. As a subsidiary of WXXI, the Little will remain a separate legal entity with separate memberships and donor files, although some joint membership opportunities arise. Five members of the Little Theatre Film Society will join the WXXI Board.

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