We at KBIA have found strength in our community during the COVID crisis. In our series, “Where You’re At,” we’re talking to our family and friends to see how their coping during the pandemic.
Here is Chris Mitchell’s call with Barbie Banks, director of Ragtag Cinema:
How are you doing? How are you and your people doing during this pandemic?
We're good. It's a very big adjustment. It's been a roller coaster sometimes I'm very excited about the new things that we're able to do other times. I feel like I'm grieving the loss of what used to be such a great thing in our community, you know?
So have you been getting in touch with some of your like building neighbors like it Hitt Rexx and Uprise Bakery? How are they sort of like gauging this situation?
In some ways Uprise Bakery provides a much more essential service with providing food and especially bread for communities. So they were working and still up and running longer than Ragtag and Hitt Rexx. But now as we consider reopening, the bakery will be up and running first and they will, I don't know kind of be the guinea pig of the building to see if people are coming in. And then Hitt Records – they have a really big online presence that has been helpful for them. But they're also doing curbside pickup and then we'll open around the same time that we hope to, which is in June with allowing people to hang out in the record store just to be lower numbers likely with masks…a lot more protective, precautionary things going on. So it's been kind of fun to have neighbors like that that are right there with you. And so you feel a little less alone as you're making these decisions and going through everything.
Are you guys working on your own sort of social distancing procedures?
We have roped off in our cinema what would be six feet apart for everybody. If you come in with your family, or if you're by yourself, we have, you know, our box office is actually a beautiful piece of art. And we are putting Plexiglas around that which is a little sad, but I understand why. And then just deeper cleaning and between each of our screening. So we're going to have screen time spaced out a little bit more so that our box office and projectionists can get in there and deep clean a little bit better.
So what have been like some of the things he has been trying to sort of circumvent some of these issues where you can't go to the movie theater, so what have you guys been trying instead?
Yeah, we kind of switched all of our programming online. So we have virtual cinema where you can log in and purchase a movie. Fifty percent of the profit comes back to us. That is very similar to what people are used to doing in their homes with Amazon. Also what they're used to doing at Ragtag. So you buy a ticket, you watch the movie, you enjoy it, that's it. And then we're also trying to do some more innovative programming with what we're calling “watch alongs” which are a variety of programs whether it's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 to you know, watching Hook with childhood psychology researchers – just a wide variety of things that you can do from your home while still meeting our mission, which is really about letting people experience the art of cinema in an immersive setting that can bring joy to them.