Duke Energy and the Reilly Arts Center have been longtime partners in their shared commitment to support the arts and education. Now, with characteristic enthusiasm and gusto, they’ve announced the Powerful Communities sponsorship with the Marion Theatre, which the arts center operates.
The six-month initiative launches this month. Each month, the Reilly-managed Marion Theatre will hold a movie screening featuring a literary-based film, and each screening will feature a nonprofit organization for which guests are invited to bring in-kind donations, such as books, notebooks, cash or gift cards.
Patrons will be supporting the chosen charity of the month while also having the opportunity to enjoy free popcorn, convivial company and a good movie for just $5 per ticket.
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The initiative provides support for the historic Marion Theatre as well as the Marion County Literacy Council and the Friends of the Ocala Public Library.
”Duke Energy has been such a supportive friend to us and to the arts in Ocala,” said Pamela Calero Wardell, executive director of the Reilly Arts Center. “Literacy is one of their main initiatives, so this tied right in with their commitment to give back and encourage reading.
“They’re awesome to work with. They do so much for the community, and I’m really excited for people to enjoy this film series,” she said.
In addition to the literacy series, Duke Energy is sponsoring a monthly family film and is springing for complimentary popcorn for guests. Donations also will be accepted at these events.
“Giving back to communities where we live and work is fundamental to who we are,” said Dorothy Pernu, government and community relations manager at Duke Energy. “We’re proud to support Ocala’s Marion Theatre and the Reilly Arts Center. This initiative not only allows them to expand accessibility to arts and culture, but also promote literacy and family fun.”
The first three films in the literacy series are “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” (Jan 21), “The Color Purple” (Feb, 18) in honor of Black History Month, and “Ready Player One” (March 18.) The charities for these screenings are the Marion County Literacy Council and Friends of the Ocala Public Library. Three more films will be announced in the series at a later date.
“We’re going to try and switch it up a bit with each film,” Wardell said. Two of her favorite book-based movies are “Little Women” and the legendary “Pride and Prejudice.”
“I particularly like the newer one with Keira Knightley,” she said with a grin. “You might even see one of them later on.”
The Reilly team is thrilled to be able to offer an opportunity for people to have a movie experience in the cinema; some of the most prevalent feedback she and her colleagues get from the community is how much they miss and love seeing films on the big screen.
“They miss it, and seeing a movie you first watched as a kid can be a lot of nostalgic fun,” Wardell said.
COVID-19 protocols will be carefully observed; the theater allows no more than 60 people at a time per showing, and safety is a priority for everyone spearheading the event so as to keep the Marion Theatre open and available.
“Right now we’re operating Thursdays through Sundays, and we’ve found that Saturdays are great days for family movies. Moms and dads can bring their kids down and have some fun, and we have a whole roster of great movies each week,” Wardell said. “We’re really happy with it so far and excited about what’s coming up.”
For more information, visit mariontheatre.org.