Dear JBFC Community

Please know how much we have missed seeing you all at the Burns. I hope you and your loved ones are healthy and safe during this challenging period.

As you can imagine, this has been a difficult time for the JBFC. Since closing our doors on March 13, we have canceled or postponed many wonderful programs and series. Education programs such as Cinemania, Classroom to Screening Room, spring break Lab camp, and school visits to the Burns have been canceled as well. We’ve postponed our work with the current Creative Culture cohort of emerging filmmakers until next fall.

Like arts organizations across the country, the JBFC relies on earned income from our operations and charitable contributions from our donors to fulfill our mission. The cancellation of public programs has put significant stress on our organization’s financials. Many in our community have come forward with additional or increased gifts and early membership renewals, for which we are deeply grateful.

Given the uncertainty that has characterized this public health crisis since its first weeks, we anticipate that the closure of the JBFC will continue through the month of June. It is our hope that we will be able to reopen in early July. This extended duration necessitates that we take difficult but prudent measures to manage our financial situation. As such, we have made the decision to reduce our operations to a minimal level. Beginning next week, we are implementing employee furloughs impacting a broad range of staff across all departments and including senior management, with differing timelines to ensure consistency in essential operations. We are making every effort to help our staff through this difficult moment, including ensuring their healthcare coverage remains in effect during their absence from work.

We are committed to serving the Burns community during this time as well. Our Virtual Screening Room will bring you the best of independent film through remote streaming platforms. We are planning more Zoom Q&As. Our Education staff will continue to send viewing suggestions and activity ideas to families and provide support for teachers in their virtual classrooms. Membership and Development will be available to answer your questions and provide any needed assistance.

The Board of Directors and the senior staff have been working collaboratively to steer the JBFC during this unprecedented time. Last week, the Board asked me to step down as Board Chair and assume leadership of the Burns as Acting Executive Director. Lynn Sobel is serving as the Chair during this time. While this has never been a position I aspired to, I fully embrace the opportunity to help the Burns navigate this current crisis and emerge on the other side as the strong, vibrant, and inspirational institution that means so much to all of us. There is much work ahead of us. I am committed to working closely with the staff to see it through.

It will be my greatest pleasure to join with the full staff of the Burns to welcome you back when we reopen our doors. Community is at the core of everything we do. We will celebrate joyously when we are able to be together again.

Let me close by again expressing my gratitude for your commitment to our mission and support for our work.

My very best,

Janet Benton
Acting Executive Director
Jacob Burns Film Center

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