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Arts & Entertainment

The Burns Spruces Up Its Three Main Theaters

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May 5, 2023

By Barrett Seaman—

As one of the few movie theaters in the area that screens both top international “art” films and commercial box office blockbusters, the Jacob Burns Film Center (JBFC, known familiarly as “the Burns”)) draws its audiences from all over Westchester and beyond. Its comfortable seating and live programming have been assets since the Burns opened its Pleasantville location in 2001.

Twenty-two years have brought with them a little wear and tear, however, leading the non-profit to launch a significant restoration project for its three main floor theaters. Starting this month, Burns members and guests will enjoy plush new seating, wider aisles to get in and out, improved stage lighting and sightlines, hand rails, LED lighting on arm rests and steps, and improved audio enhancement for those who rely on hearing aids. Theater #1, the largest with seating for 245, has a brand new screen.

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The project, on hold for three years because of the pandemic, was largely paid for partly by a grant from the Regional Economic Development Council Initiative and by the David Swope Fund, created by and named for the late benefactor, avid moviegoer and former chairman of the JBFC. Along with regular JBFC members, they managed to raise more than $2 million.

Theater #2 as it once was.

The new, wider seats are equipped with sturdier cupholders. More generous seat separation allows for more legroom and easier passage. In Theater #2, the single aisle in the middle has been replaced by aisles on each end. In Theater #2, on-stage lighting and sight lines allow for enhanced interaction between patrons and guests during in-person presentations.

Theater #2 newly-refurbished

To improve sound by blocking outside noise, the walls in Theater #2 have been equipped with sound baffling panels, For those who rely on hearing aids, the Burns has installed updated “Hearing Loop” technology, embedded under the floor, that links with an individual’s own T-coil-enabled hearing aid or cochlear implant.

Collaborating with the JBFC on this project was Mt. Kisco-based KG+D Architects, recently named “Firm of the Year” by the American Institute of Architects New York State Chapter. The firm previously worked on the opening of the Media Arts Lab in 2008.

Current theatergoers have a choice among R.M.N., Other People’s Children, Polite Society, Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, Chevalier, Air or Showing Up.

Coming soon: It Ain’t Over, The Eight Mountains , Master Gardener, You Hurt My Feelings, Raging Bull , Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Asteroid City, Oppenheimer and Barbie.

One additional feature, thanks to Governor Hochul: with newly-relaxed liquor laws that permit off-site beverages, beer and wine are on sale along with pop corn, Twizzlers and chocolate-covered raisins.

Read or leave a comment on this story...


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