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West Newton Cinema may become nonprofit center to support community arts

The West Newton Cinema. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
The West Newton Cinema. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Changes are planned for the iconic West Newton Cinema. The owners of the theater want to turn it into a nonprofit center that potentially would support community arts and independent films.

As a step toward this goal, cinema co-owner David Bramante has reached an agreement to sell the theater, located at 1296 Washington St., to the Newton-based Mark Development. According to a statement published on Village 14, the Bramante family will continue to operate the cinema for the next 18 months or so while searching for a new team to take over operations.

Bramante wrote, "While it may be the right time for our family to stop operating the theater, our priority is finding ways to secure the long-term position of the West Newton Cinema as a community gathering place, beacon for the arts, and resource to our neighborhood."

Built in 1937, the Bramantes have run West Newton Cinema for the past 44 years, and during this time, David Bramante said working with independent filmmakers has been especially exciting.

"This last year, I think I've done seven or eight premieres of independent filmmakers' work and it's very exciting and fulfilling to work with folks like that, see their product up onscreen for the first time, and it's just been a wonderful experience," he told WBUR.

With reporting from WBUR's Dave Faneuf.

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