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Cinema Salem is thanking service workers and organizations for their extraordinary efforts during this year of COVID. The cinema is turning its screens over to nonprofit organizations for free use this month and next before opening to the general public Memorial Day weekend.

“Service organizations and their staff and volunteers helped hold our community together during the COVID crisis,” says Marshall Strauss, co-owner of the cinema. “From now until we open to the general public, we want to thank these dedicated people for all they have done,” he added. The five week program is called “Celebration of Service.”

Cinema Salem is inviting nonprofit organizations and other service orgs to assemble their own audience, bring a film, and take over one or more theaters for private screenings. Cinema staff will provide free soda and popcorn.

In addition to the YMCA, organizations reserving a private screening include Lifebridge North Shore, Metastatic Breast Cancer Foundation, Plummer Youth Promise, Raw Art Works, Root NS, SalemPantry, and Women’s Friends Society. Plummer Youth Promise held its first of two screenings on April 17.

Cinema Salem has also invited Salem’s city employees and Postal Service employees, but dates have not yet been set. Organizations may invite staff, volunteers, clients, and families. COVID health guidelines are being followed.

Cinema Salem is a four-screen theater that traditionally shows first run and specialty films. It has hosted film festivals such as Salem Film Fest and Salem’s Horror Fest as well as live performances.

The venue closed in March 2020 due to COVID. Marshall Strauss and his wife Elaine Gerdine bought the cinema in September 2020. As noted, it expects to open to the general public in late May 2021. A crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo will help raise funds for maintenance and upgrades to the space. 

Interested groups may learn more and request a private screening by visiting