Cinephile fundraiser to open the Rockport Screening Room | News


ROCKPORT — As the world settles into a post-COVID-19 pandemic mode, Robert Newton, founder of Cape Ann Community Cinema, is about to open his Sandy Bay screening room.

To do so, he launched another fundraising campaign, soliciting around $40,000 for this non-profit organization that sat in obscurity for two years and felt no income.

“When the COVID lockdowns started in March 2020, we thought, like everyone else, that things would probably be back to normal in a few weeks. We intended to resume a regular schedule at our temporary location on Rogers Street in Gloucester. Weeks turned into months, months into years, and here we are,” Newton wrote in a letter to the community that has supported it since it opened 12 years ago.

Its slogan and mission are: Layers, Culture and Community.

“It has been extremely difficult financially to keep the notion of Cape Ann Community Cinema alive during this time and to that end we have had virtual screenings in the midst of lockdown,” he said. “But our future depends on community support. We’ve had three big campaigns in the past and all of them have been successful and I’m hopeful.

With gatherings closed, last fall Newton opened a charity video store, HelpFlix, in its new home base at the Whistlestop Mall off Railroad Avenue in Rockport.

“We ship your movie, book, music and technology donations around the world, benefiting 13 Cape Ann nonprofits,” he said. “And we’re always happy to embrace your wayward wares and technology, so keep them coming.”

Newton also volunteers weekly at The Open Door’s Second Glance thrift store in Gloucester to process all media donations.

But now he said he is looking forward to getting back to bringing independent, foreign and local films to his Cape Ann audience.

In addition to showing films, he said that in the spring he would like to start offering private rentals of a 20-25-seat luxury screening room at the Whistlestop Mall. The space can also be used as a classroom, with a summer film camp for middle schoolers set to begin in July; Newton returned to school to earn a teaching degree.

“In the meantime, we will rebuild this dynamic and essential space, and I look forward to welcoming you there again,” he said.

More information about the project, including a detailed breakdown of project expenses, or making a tax-deductible donation can be found by visiting

Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-675-2706 or [email protected]


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