Berlin Committee Exploring ‘Movies On Main Street’ Program

BERLIN – A downtown movie program could be the latest attraction to come to Berlin.

The concept of “Movies on Main Street” is being pursued by the Berlin Arts and Entertainment Committee.

“We’ve been trying to bring different arts to the community,” said Heather Layton, president of the committee.

Layton said outdoor movies always seemed to be popular in other municipalities and because Berlin had such an array of potential showing places the idea made sense for the town.

The committee’s tentative plan is to offer a three-movie series with one film in Stephen Decatur Park in April, one film in Henry Park in May and the third on Main Street in June.

“We have such great parks,” Layton said.

Main Street was chosen as the third location because the committee wants to show “Runaway Bride,” the movie starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere that was filmed downtown in the late-1990s.

Layton said a $1,000 matching grant from the Worcester County Arts Council would be paired with $1,000 from the Berlin Arts and Entertainment Committee to cover the cost of renting the movie equipment. The movie series is not intended to be a money-making venture for the committee but rather a way to bring art to the public.

“It’s really for the community,” Layton said. “There are so many families in Berlin now with kids of all ages. This is a free event where the community can get together.”

Ivy Wells, Berlin’s economic development director, helped create the outdoor cinema program in Sykesville during her time there and believes a similar program could be popular in Berlin.

“It will definitely fit in, in Berlin,” she said. “It was a huge success in Sykesville.”

Layton said dates for the movies were still being finalized but that the program would be publicized once her committee had made arrangements with the town and the parks commission.

In the meantime, the committee is working to promote its second annual art show called Medium.

The event, to be held Friday, Jan. 9 at The Globe in Berlin, is open to any local artists. Artists interested in entering should inquire via the “Berlin MD Arts & Entertainment” Facebook page.

Layton said that as the 2015 renewal period for the town’s Arts and Entertainment designation nears the committee has been making a renewed effort to promote the arts in Berlin.

The town was named one of Maryland’s Arts and Entertainment Districts in 2005. The designation, which has to be renewed every 10 years, comes with several benefits, according to Michael Day, the town’s outgoing economic development director. He said it provided tax breaks for artists who sold their work in the district. Beginning this year, artists can even get tax credits when they sell their work in one of the state’s 21 other Arts and Entertainment Districts.

The designation also allows developers who turn existing space into an art or entertainment related business to earn tax credits.

The other benefit that comes with the Arts and Entertainment District designation relates to the state’s entertainment tax. Entertainment establishments within the town’s district can offer lower cover charges because entertainment tax charges are not included in ticket prices.

Day said that beyond that the Arts and Entertainment designation was simply a positive for advertising.

“It’s a fantastic marketing tool to say we’re an Arts and Entertainment District,” he said.